[MAJOR SPOILER ALERT: I talk in detail about the whole plot of the movie Gone Girl.]
I love me a female villain. All About Eve, What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?, Game of Thrones, you name it. There is something quite powerful about women being anything but passive or saint-like and if we want gender identity to be represented on a spectrum, we need female villains as much as we need female heroes so the fact that the female protagonist is a psychopath isn’t what bothered me with Gone Girl. In fact, if we lived in a world where assault on women was prosecuted efficiently, I’d simply find Gone Girl a fairly gripping, well-directed movie with poor dialogues. However, we don’t live in that world. The world in which we live lets 97% of accused rapists walk free —and given that only about 2-8% of rape accusations are proven to be false, that sounds problematic to me— not to mention the fact that less than half of rape cases are reported to the police, which means I cannot consider the plot of Gone Girl outside the paradigm of the popular misrepresentations of domestic abuse [Side note: That goes for other types of abuse than sexual assault.]
So let’s break it down, shall we?
The movie starts with a seemingly ambiguous premise: has Amy Dunne really disappeared or has Nick Dunne killed his wife? Clearly, Gillian Flynn and David Fincher think this is our first time at the rodeo, dragging us through 30 minutes of “maybe-he-did-it-but-probably-it’s-a-little-more-complicated.” NO SHIT, THE MOVIE IS TWO-AND-A-HALF-HOURS LONG. So, big reveal: Amy has staged the whole thing, for no other reason than she hates her husband and he has been cheating on her. Yikes, Amy does not kid around! Also, she’s planned everything pretty meticulously, what with watching CSI and all. She even took the time to write a 7-year journal that somehow fits into one single notebook, in which she pretends that her husband hit her so she got scared he might kill her. Off she goes with a cash-loaded fanny-pack, and a big-ass calendar with entries such as “Fake pregnancy” and “Kill self?” (because, apparently, the hardest part about framing your husband for your fake murder is finding a date to actually die?)
Meanwhile, the entire country is looking for Amy, America’s sweetheart who inspired the main character from the children’s book Amazing Amy series, and her picture is all over the news. Yet all she needs to do to go about her life incognito is dye her hair and put glasses on and, bam, no one —not even the people that she actually watches the news with— recognizes her. Damn, girlfriend went through all the trouble of smearing gallons of her own blood over her kitchen floor but she couldn’t get bangs or colored lenses? [Side note: I once had to take a 45-minute nap after a simple blood test but, never mind, this woman is, like, cleaning the kitchen up, buying a car, driving all the way through the Appalachians and smoking cheeky ciggies in dirty bathrooms.] Then there’s a whole speech about how Amy hated having to fit the “Cool Girl” archetype, the girl who is supposed to drink beer and be fun but also accepts to be a sex object. That was probably the only part of the movie I truly enjoyed, but I’ll come back to it.
So, anyway, the whole country hates Nick because he smiled on a photo (which totally makes sense because… ?) And, boy, women start to hate him real good. Beside his twin sister who inexplicably yet unconditionally believes everything he says, women across America have rallied in some sort of Nick-hating fourth-wave feminist movement. To which he responds with “I do not deserve to be hated by every woman in America.” Because, you know, men couldn’t possibly dislike him for being a potential murderer. Ensues an avalanche of media coverage (by women, WHO ELSE?) presenting him as a philandering, smiling-on-photos freak who deserves the death penalty.
So good-guy Nick decides to hire Tyler Perry’s character, a lawyer who specializes in defending husbands who murder their wives (which is, by no means, creepy or anything.) This guy is literally OF NO USE WHATSOEVER DURING THE ENTIRE MOVIE other than to throw gummy bears at Nick —but he still charges him $100,000, no biggie. Nick goes on live TV totally unprepped by his wannabe-Olivia-Pope attorney and “nails” his interview by saying things like “Just because I didn’t murder my wife doesn’t mean that I’m a good guy” and all the gullible women of America believe him and suddenly they love him because hysteria.
In the meantime, Amy gets mugged by two rednecks and you think “Well, maybe now would be a good time to kill yourself, Amy, given that THIS WAS YOUR PLAN ALL ALONG” but, no, some weird survival instinct kicks in and Amy calls her ex-boyfriend to the rescue [Side note: He used to stalk her so she got a restraining order but somehow they continued exchanging letters, the contents of/reasons for which remain unrevealed.] This mysteriously rich guy instantly picks her up from some shady casino and Amy bullshits her way to his lake house where he kind of locks her up but we don’t really know for sure because he says “I’m not going to force myself on you,” and, you know, it sure doesn’t sound like a guy is a rapist when he feels the need to inform you that he’s not going to rape you (like, does he mean “not tonight” or “not ever”?) Speaking of rape, Amy’s psychopathic tendencies to wrongly accuse men of doing horrible things to her didn’t start with Nick: she once reported another ex-boyfriend to the police for aggravated sexual assault even though it never happened. You know, for funzies.
Anyway, so creepy rich guy is like “Girl, you look like a hot mess with that raggedy-ass poopy-colored hair and those nasty overalls” and, bam, Amy gets HIGHLIGHTS AND A LAYERED BOB. Like, does Neil Patrick Harris’s character have Vidal Sassoon on speed-dial or can he add haircutting skills to his list of things-annoying-rich-people-do-according-to-Gillian-Flynn? [Side note: She really fucking hates Proust, that woman.] One day, creepy rich guy leaves the house and Amy starts acting out some weird abduction scenario for the surveillance cameras. She also pops open a bottle of wine in her vagina (????) because, apparently, that’s another tip she learned in How to Fake a Rape 101. When he comes home, Amy jumps creepy rich guy who is all like “No, let’s go slow” but she’s too busy forcing a blow-job on him to listen. Then, once he’s reluctantly inserted his penis in her vagina, she slices his throat open with a box cutter as he orgasms. Talk about la petite mort, am I right? After Amy makes sure she’s got all the bodily fluid she needs to fabricate a decent rape story, she steals his car and comes back home telle le blood-soaked war hero.
Her story to the press and the police is that she got kidnapped by Neil Patrick Harris —even though, there is clear evidence that he was home in Saint Louis up until she called him three days after she went missing, but never mind— and that he did all kinds of crazy shit to her [Side note: when was the last time you ever heard the word “sodomize” uttered by someone else than a member of the Westboro Baptist Church?], which the doctors corroborate. Then Amy is all like “Check the surveillance cameras” and that seals the deal, even though the cameras were literally everywhere around the house and there must surely be footage of her and creepy rich guy eating crème brûlée and not engaging in any kind of non-consensual anal sex. But of course, good-guy Nick goes “Hey, if she was attached to a bed all that time, how come she managed to cut his throat?” which, although it is a completely valid point that any normal police officer would take into account, no one gives a shit about. Probably because, in Gillian Flynn’s world, when a woman says she got raped, everyone believes her, no questions asked. Ah, if only we trusted women LESS, the world would be a better place.
The movie ends with Amy being back home and loving Nick again because of his amazing speech about how he’s not a good guy (wait, wasn’t that the very reason she framed him in the first place? I’m confused…) and she has tons of fans and she and Nick get a book deal, and a movie deal, and all kinds of shit Tyler Perry thinks Nick should be thankful for (right.) Then Amy announces she’s pregnant which, of course, no doctor realized in the hospital when she was talking about rape and shit. Conclusion: not-a-good-guy Nick is forever stuck with not-so-amazing Amy because, actually, he doesn’t want to leave his child fatherless (so he is a good guy, after all? THIS CHARACTER MAKES NO SENSE.) The end.
Okay. Let me get this straight:
Nick = average Joe with no culture (and yet teaches creative writing at university) gets fired from his job, goes back to Missouri to attend to his dying mother, grows bored of his rich wife, starts an affair with a 20-something student, gets framed for his wife’s fake murder, while calmly enduring the wrath of hysterical women across the country until his wife comes home and blackmails him into staying with her. AND YET HE GIVES CUNNILINGUS.
Amy = rich woman from Manhattan, famous for inspiring a children’s book character (and apparently, that’s totally a reason to turn into a psychopath), has a history of getting men in trouble with false accusations of rape, gets pissed at her husband for being boring and sleazy, then totally loses her shit and fakes her own murder, gets her ex-boyfriend to help her out, brutally kills him while they’re having semi-forced sex that she initiated, says he abducted and raped her for days and then lives happily-ever-after when she comes back to married life.
So here is what I understand from the movie:
a. men can be pretty sleazy and gross and tend to objectify women, but that doesn’t make them bad people. It just makes them RELATABLE;
b. there is a possibility that women who accuse men of rape and violence are just lying conniving nutjobs;
c. the media is governed by women who either hate men de facto or just don’t give a shit about the truth.
Gillian Flynn shows no empathy for her female characters [Side note: Except maybe Margo, the twin sister, who is however incredibly submissive to her brother], just as her female characters show no empathy for one another. The very small window that would allow for feminist discourse to happen during the whole “Cool Girl” speech is completely overshadowed by the decidedly selfish design of Amy Dunne’s and generally women’s actions. If only Nick had been a truly detestable character, I would have appreciated the sheer cynicism of Gone Girl. But by making him a really good-looking regular guy with relatable flaws, one cannot help but sympathize with him and pick a side. The side that buys into the trope of the man-hating feminist-adjacent bitch who uses violence against women to fulfill her self-serving revenge fantasy. No biggie.