Is “Gone Girl” a feminist masterpiece or supremely damaging to all women everywhere? Emine Sander, Mail & Guardian
A typical American movie
By Roger Childs
There will be different views on the success of Gone Girl as it is thought-provoking, provocative but, at times, rather contrived. In many ways it is a typical Hollywood thriller, with the expected mix of drama, schmaltz, violence, bad language and sex, however on another level it can be seen as a satire on modern American life. It is based on the book by Gillian Flynn who also wrote the screenplay. That being the case, the film probably reflects the story line of the novel pretty well. Three stars.
A complicated story going backwards and forwards
The main character is Amy Elliot-Dunne played very convincingly by Rosamund Pike. She is a highly educated writer who is painted as a modern Pollyanna: the subject of a series of best-selling “Amazing Amy” books and worshiped by the nation, when she suddenly goes missing.
Director David Fincher, takes too long to establish the background on Amy, however, once she is married off to Nick Dunne (Ben Affleck plays the role well), and then goes AWOL on their fifth wedding anniversary, the pace picks up.
The main part of the story centres on the search for “Amazing Amy” and it is here that all the stereotypes kick in:
~ the heroine: long blonde hair, perfect teeth, svelte figure and loved by the nation
~ the American obsession with celebrity culture and “making it”
~ the staunch parents who front up on the media and at press conferences
~ the media scrum with the obligatory female show host, anxious to get the latest news and happy to speculate wildly on what’s going on
~ the beautifully dressed, over paid, super-confident black lawyer
~ the quaint American customs like the vigil with lighted candles.
The movie is tightly edited and, to his credit, director David Fincher, handles the flashbacks and time frames well. The audience is aided by the One day after, Twenty five days later etc.. flashed up on screen.
Light on character development but strong on gratuitous elements
The personalities of the happy/unhappy couple are very well drawn and the audience is in no doubt about the strengths, weaknesses, abilities and foibles of Nick and Amy. However, you get to know little about other key characters such as
- Detective Rhonda Boney, played earnestly by Kim Dickens
- Margo Dunne (Carrie Coon) Nick’s twin sister.
The detective doesn’t seem to have a private life (doesn’t she have a drink when she gets home?) and Margot, who runs The Bar (only the Americans would call a tavern by that name), has no apparent friends apart from her brother.
~ regular variations of the f word and c word
~ gratuitous violence
~ explicit sexual encounters.
However, the pace is fast and furious once Amy disappears, and the toing and froing between what lying/cheating Nick is doing, which most people know, and what scheming/manipulating Amy is up to, which virtually nobody knows, is effectively managed.
Worth a look?
If you like American movies which have plenty of action, sex and violence, and stereotyped characters, Gone Girl will appeal. It can also be viewed as a satire on the shallowness of “the American Way” and hero worship, but somehow I don’t think this is the director’s or screen writer’s intention.
Emine Sander, who is quoted at the top, takes it far too seriously and the film should really just be seen for what it is: an entertaining, action-packed story of the see-sawing fortunes of a modern American marriage. There are no deep messages.