Maybe Gone Girl is just a twisty “artistic” thriller.
But I doubt it.
Watching the first half of this movie has all the hallmarks of a good David Fincher directed thriller. Ben Affleck as Nick Dunne arrives home to discover his wonderful wife, Rosamund Pike as Amy is missing and there is little evidence of it being foul play. Ah, but there is a little evidence and it begins to mount in the direction of Ben’s guilt. We hear the thoughts of Ben Affleck as he caresses his wife’s head in a flashback with the double entendre allusions to him wishing he could crack open her head so he could understand the way she thinks. Okay, pretty on the nose, but makes the point of a good thriller that we must not be sure of the hero’s innocence.
It is not until the midpoint big twist of the movie that we begin to see this is not a standard thriller, but a “statement” about modern marriage, because characters begin to make unbelievable choices and the plot conveniently twists in additional unbelievable ways, all in the support of the storyteller’s “message” they are apparently trying to make.
SPOILER: Okay, look, I’m not interested in writing movie reviews. I want to talk about worldviews and meanings of movies and how they affect our lives. So I have to spill the beans. So don’t read me for movie reviews anyway.
Amy is a trust fund princess and Nick, the fast talking alpha male to replace her controlling parents. At the halfway point, we discover that Amy has constructed the entire scenario to look like a murder, so that she could punish Nick for losing his job and therefore self-worth and for his secret adultery on the side. Amy is on the run hiding her identity and even plans to kill herself originally, all to get back at Nick for ruining her life (a common feminist interpretation of how male dominance leads women to self-destruction). Nick gets a hot defense attorney and they begin to play the media image as they try to find Amy. Meanwhile, Amy ends up at the hideaway of a past stalker who was obsessed with her and is now rich himself. He is still obsessed with her and seeks to “help her” by controlling her and turning her into his puppet of pleasure, barefoot and lingerie laden at home. She finally plots another frame up of this creep and murders him.
There is a truth that Dennis Prager writes about and talks about on his Male/Female Hour on the radio. Feminists, egalitarians, leftists, metrosexuals, and other Christophobes will HATE me for saying this truth. But it is how God made us: What a woman most wants is to be loved by a man she admires, and what men most want from the woman they love is to be admired. What is a simple truism for those of us happily married (and not), becomes a kind of natural law against which this story struggles with all its soul like a rat trying to claw its way out of a cage.
Watching this movie, one can feel the palpable hatred that the storytellers must have for traditional marriage, seeing it as an oppression of women under the thumb of men who use them for their own pleasure and prop up of worth, while it smothers their own self worth. It depicts a marriage that starts out like all marriages, happy and blissful, but then over time, it dies down and crumbles. In this worldview, men are simple pigs who see women always in sexual terms and can’t pick their own ties. Women ruin themselves, just like Amy, by their desire to have a man to admire, so they try to create that man by picking his ties and put aside their own worth to try to prop him up. Can anyone blame Amy’s lack of choices by running from the slouch loser of Nick to the help of her past stalker, who is himself a cliché of controlling women through a patriarchal protection that is actually sick and twisted?
Like all good stories, Gone Girl tries to throw in some opposites for good ambiguity. So a male/female pair of grifters rob Amy when she is on the run, and they appear to be led by the woman, not the man. But then again, the man is a lowlife male who is easily manipulated into such things, another cliché of feminist narratives, just like Nick and just like the stalker. Men are easily manipulated because they are driven by their little heads. We also discover that another guy was unjustly indicted for rape charges by Amy in college because he didn’t turn out to be what she wanted. So she is a sociopath, but a sociopathic expression of a value in our society. But in this story, it seems that is what it takes to make the marriage “work.”
Families don’t get a good shake in this film. Amy’s parents use her as their story source to make millions writing children’s stories. And then borrow away the trust fund money they saved for her out of their guilt. The local woman with multiple children is the “stupid pregnant woman” that Amy manipulates to achieve her deception. And in the end, Amy comes back to Nick and offers him the opportunity for them both to stay together. She does this because she “falls in love” with him again when he pleads with her on national television with a secret message. He becomes that man that she can admire again.
The obvious absurdity that the storytellers have to get us over: Who would possibly reunite with a murderer sociopath? You’re right. No one in their right moral mind would.
In the end Nick chooses to stay with Amy and live the lie! The fact that she is a deluded scheming murderer is overridden by the fact that their marriage gives them both what they need, for her, an alpha male to admire, and for him, a woman who would do anything for his acceptance. I think this is a black comedy of sorts because that choice is CLEARLY NOT the right choice morally and therefore unsatisfying for those who want justice to prevail in a story. But that is the point of black comedies that show darkness win, I think the storytellers are trying to make the point that staying together in marriage with these beliefs requires the subjugation of a woman’s identity to a man’s strength that will drive her to do evil things to maintain that value.
It’s possible that the author is trying to show that our male and female natures taken to an extreme can become self-destructive. But if that is the case, then I think the story fails because it does not depict a proper balance of those natures against which to judge the extreme. The result of this kind of one-sided depiction is a generic statement about those natures as being all bad.
I am a sinner who needs God’s grace daily, and I don’t have a perfect marriage. But I can say that a happy marriage is not achieved by turning men into women (ie: metro girly men), or by demanding egalitarian equality of power (which is itself power-driven), or by denying our male and female natures (which is self-delusion). Rather, it is achieved through self sacrifice and dying to one’s self. It comes from a woman being loved by a man she admires and by a man being admired by the woman he loves.
Maybe Gone Girl is just a twisty “artistic” thriller.
But I doubt it.