Friday, October 10, 2014

Gone Girl

Gone Girl
seen @ Jamaica Multiplex Cinemas, Jamaica NY


Can't talk about this movie without them. Sorry.

In the old war-of-the-sexes comedy Adam's Rib, Katharine Hepburn's lawyer character gets a jury to acquit a woman who shot her husband in a crime of passion after discovering him with another woman. She does it out of a conviction that if men can get away with this sort of thing, then so can women, and that they should be treated just as equally as men in a case like this. Spencer Tracy's character, the opposing counsel in the case, argues - and proves, after the trial - that attempted murder is attempted murder, and no one has the right to do it, regardless of their justification and certainly not because of their gender.

In Gone Girl, Rosamund Pike's character fakes her abduction in an elaborate ruse meant to frame her husband Ben Affleck, because their marriage was failing and he was seeing another woman. Extreme? To say the very least. Justifiable? Well, she justifies it by saying that Affleck wanted her to be a certain kind of woman that she couldn't be. The implication appears to be that they couldn't reconcile their differences... and I guess a simple divorce was out of the question.

There's no doubt that we men have a tendency to try to shape women into what we wish they could be instead of taking them for what they are, and this is a problem. The narrative of Gone Girl seems to suggest (though I could be wrong) that Pike's actions are a symbolic blow for women everywhere who have been in a similar position, but as in Adam's Rib, I have to ask, by making this point, does this condone fraud on a massive scale, as well as (later on) murder? If it's wrong for a man to do these things, how can it be right for a woman?

To pick another analogy, I'm reminded of the rioting in LA following the Rodney King beating by police officers and the officers' subsequent acquittal at trial. There was a great deal of pent-up rage amongst black folks that went unleashed, the result of centuries of systematic discrimination and bigotry. The argument went that all that violence was not only justified, but necessary, and I can definitely understand that. I can. At the same time, though, I'm also uncomfortable with violence - especially unfocused, unrestrained, acts of wanton vandalism and destruction - as a solution. I don't think this is an unreasonable response to have.

Bringing it back to the movie, I don't believe feminism means making men hurt the way women have been hurt, whether physically or psychologically. Like Fatal Attraction before it, Gone Girl presents an image of a woman forcing a man to own up to his responsibility to her, but also like Fatal Attraction, it uses as its proxy a woman who's nuts. It's a great revenge fantasy. Amy Dunne is a fascinating and provocative character, and Pike should get Oscar nominated for playing her. But I don't buy her as a role model.


  1. It's also worth noting that many women have a tendency to try to shape men into what they wish they could be instead of taking them for what they are. Few men create elaborate revenge schemes in retaliation for it. I look at Gone Girl as a Hitchcock-type thriller: extreme people doing extreme things that have little connection to the real world (not that I didn't enjoy it!).

  2. I agree, especially about it being Hitchcockian. Everybody's flawed to one extent or another in this movie.


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