Thursday, October 9

Gone Girl

David Fincher’s latest film is an adaptation of the best-selling novel from Gillian Flynn, Gone Girl. Hailed by many as an empowered woman’s revenge, Gone Girl can also be seen as a men’s ‘rights’ activists dream; an unrelenting amalgamation of every sexist stereotype, from man-trapping pregnancies to carefully fabricated rapes.

Gone Girl uses villainess Amy (Rosamund Pike) to unravel and oppose the ‘Cool Girl’ ideal Flynn depicts in her novel, but in doing so Amy becomes the same vapid, personality-less caricature on the other side of the spectrum; the ‘Psycho Bitch’. Throughout the film we learn nothing about Amy, other than that she has no friends and is categorised without explanation as ‘a bitch’ by her sister-in-law. When her husband Nick (Ben Affleck) is questioned about her hobbies or interests he reports that she doesn’t have any - other than carefully plotting his demise, obviously. Amy is not complex. Her only mission is to make Nick suffer, and as the film grows longer and more absurd even that objective fades away, as she effectively forgives him and returns to their marriage. Her psychosis is completely unfounded, and her actions have no end, at all. It seems she exists purely to terrorise the men in her life. 

The other women in the film don’t fare much better than crazy Amy. There’s Nick’s twin sister Margo, who’s only job is to passively reiterate her brothers emotions without any significant plot line of her own. Then we have the ‘Hot College Girl’, who is basically the Cool Girl we've been told about, played by Emily Ratajkowski of Blurred Lines notoriety. Amy’s overbearing mother is absolutely summed up in those three words. And finally, the quintessential ‘Strong Female Character’ cop we see pitted against the only other marginally powerful woman in the film, and whom nevertheless fails (read: gives up) in her mission to see this bizarre case solved. 

Meanwhile the men in the film aren’t doing so well either; they are being systematically preyed upon by the Psycho Bitch. The first innocent Amy meticulously frames for rape recalls how he ‘knew a girl like that would be hard work’, and how he backed away from their relationship when she became insufferable; she bought him ties. The idea that a woman would sodomise herself with a wine bottle because her boyfriend wouldn’t wear the crappy ties she bought him is a disturbing one, but once again Amy exists purely to exact this kind of disproportionate injustice on the men in her life. 

Desi, a man who has obsessively stalked Amy and in the end effectively imprisons her, is presented to the audience as a victim. Having found a degree of respite in his home she is given little choice but to ‘look like herself again’ and play house. Desi tells her what to do and she does it‏, yet he is portrayed as the cuckolded innocent. 

The film taken on face value is really very good in that it's surprising and exciting for the majority of two and a half hours, but it’s still about an hour too long. Had it ended with Amy’s 'big reveal' it would have left all blame ambiguous and made things so much more interesting. Questions would have centred on truth; when there are two narratives, who can you trust? Can you trust yourself, or are you always the victim in your own stories? 

Once Amy had fled, on the road presumed dead with a fistful of cash, she could have done anything. She could have lived out her days peacefully on a beach somewhere, but she can’t, because everything she does is for her husband, as she says ‘I killed a man for you’. 

Amy embodies every frightening sexist stereotype, from the man-trapping to the calculated fake sexual assaults, and the film portrays all male violence towards her as totally justified. Gone Girl tells the story of the exception as if it is the rule. Amy feigns rape not once but three times - despite overwhelming evidence that women do not lie about rape - and goes to extraordinary lengths to fake pregnancy. By the end of the film, Amy has become the epitome of the Psycho Bitch to such an extent that her being violently slammed into a wall moments after announcing her pregnancy is presented as deserved, and her captivity in the home of a man who stalked her is portrayed as her using him. In the end, her actions allow the film to rationalise every act of male violence against her.

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