And I can say that because I love her.
At one point in ‘Gone Girl’, Amy Dunne, in one of her many narrated diary entries, makes the statement that many warned her, “Marriage is hard work”. This is really the one thing that stood out the most to me while watching ‘Gone Girl’, and while it is far from the only point made in this surprisingly deft marital observation, it is the one that lingers the most and possibly the reason that I find this film to be so universally effective. There is no denying that much of ‘Gone Girl’ is absurd. We can’t escape that reality. The integral plot points are so crisply shaped in this world of preposterousness and yet it all feels so richly observant. This film says so much about relationships, the way that they are shaped, how they breathe, shift, change and dissolve. I hate that so many are missing the point of this film, instead giving too much attention to the obvious camp aspects, which are there to exaggerate the honesty here and not to distract from them.
Gillian Flynn could be a genius, or maybe that genius is David Fincher.
It’s probably a combination of the two.
I’ll admit this, when I read the screenplay for ‘Gone Girl’ a few months back, I didn’t see anything of real note, and I was rather surprised that David Fincher, a director I hold in very high esteem, would even be interested in exploring this rather ridiculous story. Staring at words on a page I was left with this underwhelming notion that there was something else there I wasn’t seeing or that wasn’t fully explored and somewhere within Flynn’s storytelling laid a real astute observation that just wasn’t coming through loud and clear. I entered the theater with very little expectation, other than a flicker of hope that I was going to be wowed. As the dialog, which felt so forced in the screenplay, floated from one character to the next and the scope of Fincher’s vision unraveled all over these ‘moments’ in film, I found myself drawn deeper and deeper into this story I had initially taken for granted, and by the time it all came to a climax I was literally shaking with this overwhelming ‘complete’ understanding of what was being explored.
I saw my marriage. I saw my life. I saw my reality. I needed a drink.
At the heart of ‘Gone Girl’ is a story about deceit. Not a malicious deceit (at least not at the heart), but deceit nonetheless. ‘Gone Girl’, on the surface, tells the story of a man who is being investigated for the possible murder of his missing wife, but under the surface the story is much different, or at least not so literal. I think the main issue to be found in the detractor’s complaints of this film is that they are taking everything so literally, looking at it all for face value; and this is so much more than that. Under that veneer of ‘thriller’ and ‘mystery’ lies a very intricate dissection of human relationships and the trouble we go to, to secure them, even when they aren’t worth securing.
For me, ‘Gone Girl’ was a blunt, brutal, extremist allegory of the modern-day marriage. This isn’t to say that this is a realistic portrait of a modern-day marriage. Metaphorically, this touches many corners that most films wouldn’t dare to with regards the real guts of a marriage. It isn’t saying anything realistic, and yet in the process it is basically dissecting marriage for what it really is.
I distinctly remember, about six months into my marriage, sitting next to my wife while at dinner with some friends, hearing the words coming out of her mouth, watching her body language, soaking in her cold stares and writing on a napkin, “you lied to me” and slipping it onto her lap. We do this. We paint a portrait of who we think others want us to be so that we can be what they want in order to get what we want, and while this isn’t normally done in a malicious manner (I mean, we genuinely LOVE that persona and just want them to love us back), it is still deceit, and it is dangerous deceit. In the story of Nick and Amy, they had this torrid love affair that lived in the eye of that deceit, but as the relationship bloomed and then withered, it was that deceit that was at the heart of everything, from the conception of their love to the absolute death of it. No one was solely to blame, and while Nick was a pig and Amy was a psycho, both were absolutely in this marriage, every part of it, and both were victims and assailants, broken to bits by their own necessities and their own individual carelessness.
Deep in the unsaid of this story is an astute understanding of what makes this relationship so universally understood. The blame, criticism, regret, unresolved aggression; the lack of communication, petty belittlements, venomous rage…it all feels so richly observant, so accurate, so remarkable honest.
What Flynn and Fincher have done here is create a story that is just as deceptive as the relationships it is dissecting. It lies to us. It becomes what we think we want it to be. It is thrilling, daring, exploitive; delivering what appears to be nothing but a revenge story, a murder mystery turned psychotic exposé on a seriously demented couple and yet it is so much more than that, because once we allow it all to rest on our souls we see that this is the story of our lives, our loves and our futures.
Marriage is hard work. What an understatement, and yet regardless of that fact, it is a loaded statement all the same because it is pretty much the most factual statement one can make and yet it is varying degrees of hard work for everyone. No marriage is the same, and yet all marriages are hard, even the easy ones. Nick and Amy may not resemble anyone you know and yet all of us are Nick and Amy, it’s really as simple as that, which isn’t really all that simple at all, which is exactly why this film is so astonishingly good.
I give this an A+, and I mean that. This is such a smart, smart movie, so smart that very few are even seeing the intelligence here, it's that good at what it's doing. I wholly believe Oscar is going to devour this with nominations for Picture, Director, Screenplay, Lead Actress, Editing, Cinematography, Score and possibly in Sound as well.
Now, I've actively avoided all reviews of this film since it was released and even after I saw it because I was determined to compose and write my thoughts down before I allowed any other opinions to cloud my views on the film. So...I will now seek out your reviews and read them my friends!