entertainment

Gone Girl is not about you.

By KATE LEAVER

(SPOILER ALERT: To talk at all interestingly about the book/film Gone Girl, I’m going to have to talk about plot twists and endings. You know that. Read on at your own peril and by the way, if you haven’t read or watched the most anticipated movie adaptation of a novel since Pride and Prejudice, what are you doing with your life? Just kidding. Sort of.)

Gone Girl the movie is already a disgusting success.

Since its opening on the weekend, it’s made $38 million in ticket sales. It’s the #1 movie here, in the US, in Britain, and elsewhere. Modern civilization is now divided into two groups: Those who have seen Gone Girl, and those who have not.

Quickly: Gone Girl is a thriller about a beautiful, murderous psychopath called Amy (Rosamund Pike).

Amy is unhappily married to a guy called Nick Dunne (Ben Affleck), who cheats on her with one of his bare-breasted students (the girl from the Blurred Lines film clip). As revenge, Amy meticulously frames Nick for her own murder.  She lies about being pregnant, she lies about being beaten, she kills her high school sweetheart with a box-cutter halfway through sex and later claims it was a romantic gesture to win her husband back.

She is all kinds of evil.

Amy Dunne is a sensational villain. She’s blood-thirsty, ruthless, and beguiling. And when’s the last time you saw or read such a complex, fascinating female villain? We rarely, if ever, get fully-formed evil women in our literature or on our screens.

That probably explains the mad reaction to this film.

In a scramble to make sense of having a vicious female lead, everyone is trying to make a fable out of a movie. Critics, journalists, people who walk into a cinema with popcorn and expectations – they’re all trying to pin this movie to a Big Social Message. Is it about domestic violence and the toxicity of an abusive relationship? Is it about feminism? Is it about misogyny? Is Gone Girl a neat little parable on the horrors of married life?

For Jezebel writer Jessica Coen, Gone Girl is about marriage. It’s about that eerie idea that no matter how dedicated you are to another human being, do you ever really know them? And can emotional negligence turn love into evil?

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Coen writes that: “Gone Girl is about many things: revenge, infidelity, the wounds inflicted by bad parenting, the media, an angry wife, her douchebag husband. It is also about a marriage taken to its most terrible extreme.”

For Time Magazine journalist Eliana Dockterman, Gone Girl was about gender.

She wrote: “The highly anticipated film adaptation of Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl is out, and nobody can agree if it’s a sexist portrayal of a crazy woman or a feminist manifesto. The answer is it’s both, and that’s what makes it so interesting.” She goes on to say, basically, that Amy Dunne was a mad-awesome feminist icon before she turned into a cold, sick murdering bitch.

Dockterman touches on something really important: The way we force all our fictional female characters to stand for all women.

“Because there are so few strong women in literature (or TV shows or movies) the burden falls on the writers who do write about women to make them represent all of womanhood,” she wrote. “And that’s simply not fair. We should have all sorts of women in our novels — just as we have all sorts of men. Very few writers are creating complex, evil female characters with interesting motivations. Gillian Flynn is.”

That’s why we cannot let Amy Dunne just be a beautiful, murderous psychopath: She has to be all beautiful, murderous psychopaths.

I’ve got a radical idea. What if we just let Gone Girl be a movie? A thrilling tale of murder, sex, and revenge between a beautiful psychopath and her mediocre unfaithful husband?

Amy Dunne is not all wives.

Nick Dunne is not all husbands.

Gone Girl is not all marriages.

It’s just a horrific story we pay $12 $20 to be told, in graphic pictures, in the dark, for two hours of our lives. It’s provocative, disturbing, and intense. It’s sit-on-the-edge-of-your-seat level thrilling. But let’s not try and make it more than it is. It’s just a movie.

It’s just a movie.

Look through some of the stills from Gone Girl…

Have you seen the movie? Have you read the book? If you were Margaret or David, how many stars would you give it?

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