starring Ben Affleck, Rosamund Pike, Neil Patrick Harris, Tyler Perry and Carrie Coon
screenplay by Gillian Flynn
directed by David Fincher
This is an excellent film, but I hated it. So I give it four stars not because I liked it but because it was a great story, well acted. Remember Bonfire of the Vanities by Tom Wolfe? I don’t mean the movie with Tom Hanks and Bruce Willis (1990). I mean the novel itself (1987), which was so much better than the film. Gone Girl reminded me of Bonfire of the Vanities because of its portrayal of how human behavior is shaped by attitudes in turn shaped by pretense and mythology that have nothing whatsoever to do with factual truth, and how difficult it is to persuade people of anything merely with the true facts. Human life is a demented drama that cannibalizes its cast. One fact is true, though, that when you are down people really do start kicking you. They kick you all the while sincerely convinced of their own virtue. I see it in the movies and I know from experience how true it is in real, factual life and it makes me angrier than a swarming hive.
Based on the novel by Gillian Flynn, Gone Girl features the troubled marriage of two unemployed writers, Nick and Amy Dunne. The two leave New York to return to Nick’s mid-western hometown to care for Nick’s ailing parents. But the move away from the Big Apple, coupled with a lack of employment due to economic recession plus the cultural dullness of the mid-west put more strain on their already ailing marriage. After five years of marriage (not a long time at all, really) the two have had enough of each other. But instead of divorce Amy, who is a brilliant wacko, decides to take vengeance on Nick for not loving her the way she thinks she deserves by faking her own death and framing him for it. You know what they say about a woman scorned … Well Amy’s vendetta is like Islamic terrorism: clever, extreme, no-holds-barred. Amy fully intends to see Nick go to the state’s execution chamber while she creates a new life for herself. She’s brilliant and brutal enough to succeed, too. It makes me so angry that I yearn for the Scriptural rule, “If the witness is lying, his penalty shall be the punishment he thought the other man would get” (Deuteronomy 19:19). That would make me happy.
Nick is a bad husband. He’s an asshole, bHesHe’sut he’s not a murderer. I say that the story is a good even though I didn’t like it because it is well developed; it has griping plot twists; there is fair character development. However, Nick is weak. If he is an asshole of a husband then that part of his personality is poorly developed compared to his psychotic wife. Affleck fails to give Nick a bigger impression. He’s too affable.
I yearn for the Scriptural rule, “If the witness is lying, his penalty shall be the punishment he thought the other man would get.”
Nick has secrets. He has a young lover, and his marriage was difficult. But after Amy’s disappearance he has to act the tortured husband in front of the news cameras. But Nick’s personality compounds his problem when he doesn’t act the way everyone thinks he ought to act. Nick isn’t prepared for the mix of invention and legitimate news in the age of social media and instant publicity. He almost doesn’t need his wife to frame him because all by himself he’s kind of a dullard in that sense. In the mass media age perception is reality, like it or not. That is the point that Bonfire of the Vanities and Gone Girl manipulate so infuriatingly. Now that I’ve seen the movie I have half a mind to read the novel, which surely will be even better.