#239 – Gone Girl (2014)

From 696,528 votes, Gone Girl has an 8.1/10 rating from the users of IMDb.

With his wife’s disappearance having become the focus of an intense media circus, a man sees the spotlight turned on him when it’s suspected that he may not be innocent.
Hoo boy. This one was intense. As always this will be spoilers inclusive, but this time a warning as this movie relies on its twists and turns for its entertainment factor and it is good at it. So if you haven’t seen it and want a fresh, fantastic experience, go watch it. Highly recommended.
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Gone Girl is a film starring Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike. They are not healthy people. They are in a marriage. It is not a healthy marriage. To differing extents both characters they play, named Nick and Amy, are sociopaths. And by fucking God do they prove that over the course of this movie. To give you a spoileriffic rundown of the movie’s plot:
  1. Nick is unhappy in his marriage and turns to one of his students for comfort and sex.
  2. Amy finds out.
  3. Amy decides to disappear herself and frame Nick for her murder.

The way the twist is revealed half-way through the film with Amy narrating her plan in excruciating detail is so well done. I was gobsmacked. I went into the film completely blind and it got me good. The suspense builds gradually and significantly only to pay off again and again as the story goes through each new shocking development. I felt my heart beating in my chest numerous times throughout, mostly during Amy’s story. Her ‘captivity’ with Desi was particularly stunning to watch. And when I say stunning I mean I was stunned. Rosamund Pike is a force to behold. Saying that, so is Affleck. They lead this movie brilliantly, both of them so enjoyable to watch.

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Something this movie deals with intimately is how the American news cycle deals with stories like that presented in Gone Girl. A woman has disappeared. A white, pretty woman has disappeared. A white, pretty, pregnant woman has disappeared. The story was eaten up by the reporters, with Nick and Amy’s lives completely picked apart for any clues and/or gossip to tout. Wild theories are abound (including a very uncomfortable near-accusation of sibling incest) and certain characters are tarnished. The movie explicitly shows us how interviews are prepped for, how seemingly easy the mob is turned from hateful to loving to hateful again, and how media presentation is of crucial importance even when you’re just a husband who doesn’t know where his wife is. Nick is treated abysmally by this phenomenon of 24-hour news. He is called a murderer, a cheater, is hounded outside his house and place of work. Even his twin sister is the subject of this invasion of privacy, it’s tearing his life apart. All this while he has to deal with his wife’s disappearance, a police investigation and then the realisation that this isn’t happening to him, it’s happening because of him and his failing marriage.

The thing is, we as the audience is lead to believe that their marriage is fine, idyllic even. We’re treated to their meet cute five years ago. Gratuitous and hot sex scenes and declarations of love that make us jealous of their perfect relationship. Then slowly but surely we see the cracks in their relationship. And it’s never their fault. No. It’s the recession. It’s the death of Nick’s mother. It’s Amy’s parents losing their publisher. The deep, gouging flaws in the couple’s personalities isn’t ever really addressed until the end of the film when the audience comes to the tragic realisation that while these two people seem like the most sociopathic, dangerous people to be around and involved with, they really do make a perfect couple.

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Let’s talk Amy. And let’s talk ‘why she is the way she is’. Now I don’t mean to get all ‘armchair psychologist’ (though I’m more qualified than most) but I reckon the fault lies with the parents. They are authors, and they had a successful children’s book series called Amazing Amy. The same name as their daughter you’ll notice. When Amy quit learning to play the cello, Amazing Amy got a cello. When Amy didn’t make the volleyball team, Amazing Amy became a volleyball star. Each and every one of Amy’s failures, whether self-perceived or perceived by her parents, were immortalised in books that her own parents wrote. Imagine how that must feel, to have your own parents exploit your life and specifically the embarrassing parts of it, to turn them into an idealised version of yourself. “Look dear, this is what you should have been.” It’s not difficult to see why Amy isn’t completely at home with other people. Let’s not forget that Amy has a sort of shrine to the idealised Amazing Amy in her own home. She certainly doesn’t hide her resentment for the character, so why keep a huge memento of that painful series? Maybe it’s her driving force, the thing that makes her want success in spite of what her parents perceived. And what fucking parents too. They even named the website to aid the investigation after their character.

She might not even be the creepiest character in the whole thing though. Neil Patrick Harris definitely should be mentioned for the exceedingly slimy, super rich Desi. A man who wants nothing but to care for a broken bird of a woman and be a hero. And is, evidently, quite the one-pump-chump. And also has the honour of being the star of the most chilling scene in the entire movie. And just, ugh. Everything about him exudes wrong. He’s set up as the audience’s main suspect at the beginning of the film. He’s flighty and he has history with Amy. It’s almost too easy. And then he does eventually get Amy in his life and he proceeds to trap her in his beach house full of cameras, hair dye and according to the book, a strict diet to make Amy lose the weight she gained whilst on the lam. Gross. He’s an icky, untrustworthy character who is both a predator, yet way out of his league when it comes to dealing with Amy. NPH is a fantastic actor and between this and A Series of Unfortunate Events I am coming to adore him in darker roles.

All in all, this movie is compelling. It grips you by the chest and doesn’t let go. It’s good and it fully deserves its spot on the Top 250 list. Also Ben Affleck is a total dad (ha) and you see Neil Patrick Harris’s penis. Albeit covered in blood but it was a pleasant surprise nonetheless.

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One thought on “#239 – Gone Girl (2014)

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