Gone Girl: Duplicity, modern marriage and victim culture; A brilliant satire

This was my first ever review on my blog which was about a year ago. But I’m going to repost this (with some edits) to kick off a new series called ‘Favourite Movies Ever‘ which you can find at the top right hand corner of my homepage as one of the menus. I’ll review a favourite movie of mine quite often from now on to add variety to the current movies that I mainly review. So far Her and Midnight In Paris are sitting pretty in that list, check em’ out if you’re interested! Gone Girl will be in as well. Next one will be a certain Christopher Nolan film 😉

You always feel unsettled watching Gone Girl. Right from the start,flashbacks are dark and provide glimpses of both Amy Elliot Dunne’s (Rosamund Pike) and Nick’s (Ben Affleck) perspective. It is a gripping tale that unfolds unconventionally,with bits of information strewn from different narrators. I would personally contend that the film has provided us with equally important and compelling narratives in Amy and Nick,with their lives so intertwined with each other, and are both protagonists in their own right. The significance of such a character dynamic is interesting,and is closely linked to its thematic elements. David Fincher’s tale about the symbiotic and yet catastrophic destruction of a marriage is a shrewd observation of problems in both society and marital life. His exaggeration, which might come in preposterous excess to some, actually dramatizes these problems to the point so unimaginable, it desensitizes us to what we consider extreme. As we marvel at what Fincher has in store for us, there is a growing sense, a nagging feeling as you look over to your partner beside you and can’t help but slightly wonder “Could this be you?”

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The film opens with the investigation of Amy Dunne’s disappearance. Set in the backdrop of a recession, financial problems and an unstable marriage have rocked the core of their marriage. Evidence of this is narrated with the almost effortless voice from Rosamund Pike,with journal entries(flashbacks) which are shown to viewers from time to time, in the midst of the real time search for ‘Amazing Amy’-a nickname that just spells trouble. To Amy, it wasn’t just a nickname.’Amazing Amy’ is a twisted and unrealistic projection of Amy by others, a false image created in the ‘Amazing Amy’ books. Fincher here illustrates the first twisted image of many more to come. A particularly soothing and yet unsettling tune “Sugar Storm” from the brilliant soundtrack by Atticus Ross and Trent Reznor plays throughout the film. But perhaps none more hauntingly than when Nick wipes off the dough dust from Amy’s lips and kisses her in the dark alley. It is one unforgettable scene where Fincher nails completely; As the strings and ambience build, a foreboding sense of reality hits us harder, unbeknownst to the characters who are blind to the facade of initial impression and gratification. Just like marriage, Gone Girl gives us a foretaste that hides the closet of skeletons.

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“Men always say that as the defining compliment, don’t they? She’s a cool girl. Being the Cool Girl means I am a hot, brilliant, funny woman who adores football, poker, dirty jokes, and burping, who plays video games, drinks cheap beer, loves threesomes and anal sex, and jams hot dogs and hamburgers into her mouth like she’s hosting the world’s biggest culinary gang bang while somehow maintaining a size 2, because Cool Girls are above all hot. Hot and understanding. Cool Girls never get angry; they only smile in a chagrined, loving manner and let their men do whatever they want. Go ahead, shit on me, I don’t mind, I’m the Cool Girl.

Men actually think this girl exists. Maybe they’re fooled because so many women are willing to pretend to be this girl. “

We soon get a reveal of Amy’s sociopathic tendencies which are brilliantly fleshed out by Rosamund Pike through journal entries and clues that are read in her cold and somewhat whimsical voice. Pike reads it with a sort of seductive and sensual lyricism which makes it all the more captivating. Her twisted game of treasure hunt leaves clues for Ben to discover amidst the growing speculation surrounding her disapperance. Nick seems to garner our sympathies at first but since the narrative is highly ambiguous, we can’t help but doubt his honesty. With the age-old adage ‘it takes two hands to clap’, the film unwraps its cryptic mystery line by line and flashback by flashback. Ben Affleck isn’t a simple ‘type B/laidback’ character that he’s portrayed at first. Smiling at sombre campaigns to find Amy, there is something disconcerting about Nick here. Fincher then slowly unravels his hidden lover and the fact that he has become less driven and family-minded as time passes. Ultimately choosing to side with either is an exercise in futile; They’re both flawed in their own ways and each try to negotiate back control and power within their own respective predicaments. Therein lies the complexity from having two unreliable narrators, fascinating as it may be, who twist the narratives; Amy wants revenge while Nick wants redemption. It is in this non-chronological psychological battlefield that shifts Gone Girl’s message one way then shifts slightly in another direction based on what’s being revealed. Gone Girl is a stylish hyperbole of corrupted bonds and an excellent masterclass in unreliable narration. The seeds of doubt fester in our minds just as it has on both Amy and Nick and never lets go.

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One can almost feel that Amy, who I firmly believe is one of cinema’s most complex characters, gains and perversely sustains herself through the victim cycle. Amidst it’s other satirical jabs at modern marriage and trust issues and the power struggle within marriage, Gone Girl’s portrayal of the victim cycle is one provocative theme that it explores with soul-stirring sequences. The lengths at which Amy goes to, and credit goes to Rosamund Pike whose depraved coolness and haunting duplicity is so scary, is amazing indeed. Totally sick! With all the graphic imagery you’ll soon see, Gone Girl reverberates with an energetic tempo that subverses the pitiful nature of a victim; Victimhood actually feels empowering. It doesn’t feel natural, but the film has totally convinced us. Too often people say that ‘oh, it’s crazy’ or ‘it’s too dark and violent’. But have we stopped to consider that we ourselves, through our own interests in sensationalizing news, engender a more disgusting culture than what’s merely depicted on screen. As seen from the constant reference to the upkeeping of one’s public persona, frantic media coverage and posturings in front of the media from most notably Nick himself, it’s clear for all to see that the film accurately depicts a society that feeds of and engenders a toxic brand of  deception. It is one bloody and violent suckerpunch that will shock you in more ways than one. But this isn’t a horror film; It’s a film that exposes the horrors in us.

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Whether you like the film or not doesn’t really matter. It has important things to say and likewise we have alot of things to think about. What I loved about it was that David Fincher’s film isn’t strictly one genre; It’s drama, thriller, modern satire and horror all mixed into this hypnotic affair of victimization and abuse. Fincher has his trademark style of turning up the blacks to set the tone but also explores with more graphic crimson hues and shell-shocking cut scenes that traumatize you to shreds.  Gone Girl tells of the murky undergrowth that exists under the veneer and idyll of ‘marriage’. It’s extreme I agree. But not all artists want to depict life as it is. For Fincher, he pushes it so far and yet still finds a way to stir our senses in ways that apply to real life more than we expect. Perhaps Gone Girl leaves us with this one encompassing message; The more the tensions are unresolved, the more each individual separates out of the shared bond, and brings in individual distortions that destroy the bonds between them. This is arguably Fincher’s best film to date and cuts at the very heart and crux of the deficiency’s in man and his relationships.

” There’s something disturbing about recalling a warm memory and feeling utterly cold.”

Listen to this and tell me it doesn’t perfectly fit the movie; Sweet at first, then horrfyingly unsettling. This was my best movie of 2014. And I was honestly surprised it wasn’t nominated for Best Picture, Adapted Screenplay and Music Score.

Rating 10/10

 

Images credited to Regency Enterprises, TSG Entertainment and 20th Century Fox.

Poster by one fantastic Ben Holmes, check out his artworks at http://www.bjwholmes.com/

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13 Comments Add yours

  1. Great review, JW. I liked the step by step revelations and how your feelings for Nick and Amy flip flop by the end of the film. It’s not an easy trick and I loved the film for that.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. jwforeva says:

      Woo! Yeah the film does that to you, I’d reckon only Fincher can. I loved being on the edge not knowing what to expect

      Liked by 1 person

  2. John Charet says:

    Interesting review 🙂 I love it that you list Spike Jonze’s Her as one of your favorite films of all-time 🙂 I love the film as well and I was proud to see Jonze take home the prize for Best Original Screenpla 🙂 Nevertheless, where were the Oscar noms for Phoenix and Johanssoon 🙂 But let me stay on topic 🙂

    As idiosyncratic as this sounds, I think Gone Girl is David Fincher’s strongest film because his screenwriter of choice Gillian Flynn is actually a huge fan of his work and in the resulting you can see why. I will admit this would have been an even better film If it was directed by Paul Verhoeven or Brian De Palma, but that is just me. Pike is really great and it was great to see Tyler Perry in an unexpected kind of role. The whole film was really entertaining 🙂

    I am often accused of dismissing anything I do not like as nihilistic If the film fits the description, but that is simply not true because for one thing, look at some of the directors I love If ever you are on my site. Filmmakers like Stanley Kubrick and David Cronenberg and many others, I highly adore because If they have nihilism in their films, they feel sincere. Whenever I watch a majority of Fincher, Tarantino and Paul Thomas Anderson’s work, their nihilism reeks of insincerity as If I need to do this so I can be cool, but again that is just me 🙂 Sorry If I am boring you, I just love this conversation here 🙂 Anyway, keep up the great work as always 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. jwforeva says:

      No no not at all, this isn’t boring one bit! Yes I have been to your site,been reading recent posts but I do realize you have a chunk on the left on a vast array of directors and their work WOW. I will definitely read them. For me I’m not a huge movie buff in the sense that I don’t have much knowledge on the guys in the past like Kubrick etc because I’ve yet to watch their films! But this is very interesting, care to explain why ‘nilhilism’ is genuine in some work and how it’s not in people the Fincher, PTA and QT. I like Fincher’s work alot, love all his films but I agree with you, Gone Girl is his best one yet 🙂

      Her was just so brilliant, so touching and yet also a study of our interaction with techonolgy. I generally love films which are totally engrossing but provocates ideas and questions about the wider society. Jonze totally deserved it! I would have given it Best picture as well but 12 years was very good. In recent times, the film that won is something I thought was undeserving. Didn’t like The King’s Speech nor Argo nor Birdman. But I’ve had no problems with 12 years, I rate it second to Her for 2014. And ScarJo should get a nom just for voice acting!!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. erinb9 says:

    I’ve been wanting to see this. Now I definitely will

    Liked by 1 person

    1. jwforeva says:

      Oh man, I hope I didn’t spoil it for you. It really is a great movie.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. erinb9 says:

        No, no you didn’t! It’s one of those I meant to see but missed it. I’ll definitely see it now. Maybe even read the book (I hear that’s good too)

        Liked by 1 person

      2. jwforeva says:

        Phew. Oh yeah me too, I might want to get the book as well.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. indokardia says:

    First off, I really like your writing style. Secondly, I’m impressed by how deeply you skillfully dissect a seemingly “Hollywood movie”.
    Well done 🙂
    (Just FYI. My all time favorite movie is ‘ Shawshank Redemption)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. jwforeva says:

      Thanks for checking out my blog. Sorry for the late reply! Haha it was a mainstream kind of film, but some people fail to see how it’s also very deep. Glad you liked my review 😉
      That is a very good choice for favourite movie 🙂

      Like

  5. Loved your review and I would like to read your original piece haha. David Fincher is a masterful director and certainly my favourite director working today. And Her is my favourite movie of all time. Seen it more that 15 times, maybe more. Also Midnight in Paris is one of Woody Allen’s best movies, seen it many times and loved it more each time I did.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Satua says:

    Great review! I agree with you on a lot of points especially when it comes to Rosamund Pike, she’s chillingly great in this one. But I must disagree with this being the best of Fincher (my all time favourite director), Seven and The Fight Club are still better. And maybe even The Social Network.

    Like

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