The ultimate guidebook for revenge or a step back for feminism? Whatever your thoughts on Gone Girl, we can all agree: it offers one captivating ride.
Gone Girl has received many accolades in the press, gaining positive reviews from fans of the book and critics alike. Though difficult to get into why this movie was so brilliant without revealing the titillating twists and turns, below I offer you a glimpse into a spoiler-free review and will highly encourage you to see the film for yourself.
My initial thoughts
Honestly, had I known this was a David Fincher film, I wouldn’t have watched it at all. For this reason, I’m glad I went into it relatively blind! In fact, I came into Gone Girl knowing only three things about it.
#1 It had been a well-loved novel by Gillian Flynn – A book my mother had recently read and raved about.
#2 It stars Ben Affleck *yum* – One of few actors who grows more handsome with age.
#3 It has a notoriously frustrating ending – How, I wondered?
I watched the film with an open mind, which I rarely do. I love dissecting and analyzing films from start to finish, wondering how each shot was put together, what the actors did behind the scenes, and what in the world the writers were thinking. But for Ben Affleck I would take off my pessimistic and judgemental movie crown, relax and enjoy, and I eventually came out pleased with the results. Indeed, it wasn’t until much after the film that I started to wonder about its merits.
The reader’s digest version
For those who don’t know, Gone Girl tells the story of married couple Nick and Amy Dunne. On the day of their fifth wedding anniversary, Amy goes missing, leaving her husband to lead the police and media into a search for his wife. As the media hunt turns into a circus act and Nick’s behavior becomes increasingly evasive and uncooperative, police can’t help but suspect the husband of foul play.
Amy’s diary is found and narrated by the lovely Rosamund Pike, telling an entirely different story of what married life with Nick was like, and drawing his character further into question. As a shady extra-marital affair is unearthed, the question becomes more glaring: Did Nick truly murder his wife, or is there a different story unfolding?
My first plot twist
As soon as I realized what the first twist in the film was going to be, I nearly started clapping. If you’ve seen the film, you’ll know exactly the twist I speak of. By the end of the film I’d changed my tune – I was horrified, and it was fantastic.
On point acting
The acting was spot on, from Nick’s realist and down to earth twin sister Margo, played by Carrie Coon, to the starring couple themselves, Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike. Pike seems to have received much praise for her role as the Amazing Amy, along with an Oscar Nomination, and while I agree she did a fantastic job, I was downright annoyed by the choice for Amy as soon as the film began. I quickly became endeared to her portrayal, and grew more and more impressed as the film came to a close.
Sidebar: As soon as Pike spoke on screen, my accent snout started sniffing. Having never seen any of Pike’s prior works, I quickly turned to my husband and declared: “She’s British!” A quick IMDB search when we got home reassured me that my snout was right. The husband is ever amazed with my unthinkable talent.
Back to the acting: Everyone did a fantastic job. Not surprisingly Ben Affleck does brilliantly in his role, and I must say the addition of Neil Patrick Harris and Tyler Perry were more than welcome additions to the cast. Dare I say, Neil Patrick Harris stunned in his believable role as the creepy and obsessive Desi Collings.
Issues of misogyny, feminism and rape
Days after I saw the film, I couldn’t stop thinking about some of the issues it had touched on. While there’s already been much debate in the media about the gender issues found within both the Gone Girl book and movie, here’s what I myself had picked up on:
#1 Misogyny – hatred and poor portrayal of women. While some women might be hailing this film, as I did in the first half hour or so, as the ultimate twisted payback, others might view it as a tad misogynistic – portraying a woman doing stereotypical “crazy” things in order to get what she wants.
#2 Feminism. One giant leap for man and… two steps back for feminism? With the above statements about misogyny in play, one wonders exactly what this says about modern day equal rights. This film’s heroine even prompted the “Gone Girl” novelist Gillian Flynn to say: “I killed feminism. Why did I do that?”
I will say this film does a fantastic job of making you wonder whether Nick’s affirmations or Amy’s diary pages was in the right. Should we hate the crazy girl, or the cheater who drove her mad? This film does a great job of showing you why neither gender should be the celebrated one over the other.
#3 Lying about rape. For the sake of no spoilers, I’ll be vague. On the ride home, my husband and I immediately jumped to the subject of rape within this film. With all the recent media accounts of forced sex and what is considered consensual intimacy, we couldn’t help but point out that it only takes one vindictive woman to lie about being raped for the real victims to be labeled as liars.
While this subject in the film speaks more to the mental capacity of the person in question, it still sparked a raise of my brow. [Read: 16 signs of an abusive partner]
Ben Affleck’s penis
Heading back to lighter fare, have I mentioned Ben Affleck’s Penis? That’s right. Mr. Affleck bares all for this amazing thriller. And what a thrill it was.
The scene, in reality, wasn’t sexualized or degrading in any way. In fact, it wasn’t even in a sex scene. Instead, it offered a real and personal glimpse into a conversation between a couple that was going through a hard time. It was only side peen anyway.
Affleck’s thoughts on baring it all in a brief shower scene? “It’s IMAX penis! You’ve gotta pay 15 bucks to see it in 3D… It’s better in 3D.” However, it was Affleck’s own wife, Jennifer Garner, who summed it up perfectly when speaking to Ellen DeGeneres about her husband’s nude scene, when she stated with a grin: “You’re welcome.”
The elusive ending
Despite how frustrated people seemed to be by the ending, and I can understand why, I thought it was fantastic. Was this love, or entrapment? I didn’t know. I wondered if the book gave a more definitive answer, but didn’t care either way. I found the ending to be a perfect wrap-up to this strangely weaved web of deceit and cryptic clues.
If you are bored of the usual rom-com’s and are deeply into thrillers and plot twists, then this is definitely the film for you. Approach Gone Girl with an open mind and ignore everything you may have heard about the ending. This is a definite must-see.
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