I feel physically unclean after seeing Gone Girl. Seriously. Please excuse me while I take a scalding shower….
Okay, I’m back. Very clean. HEY, past this point, there be SPOILERS in DETAIL about Gone Girl.
I think I washed the stench of evil from my skin. Eeeeevil. E-VIL. The ‘girl’ is the scariest psychotic imaginable. Sweet Holy Moses, Gone Girl was an intense experience. I shuffled through a lot of emotions, viewing it. Initial interest, a pervading sense of depression, to thinking I guessed the secret, to being lost in layers of deceit, experiencing a bit of boredom in the middle…then with more depression seeping in, and finally ending on a note of mesmerized fascination as the two leads went head to head in a battle royale for power (Amy) or life (Nick).
And you know what? By the end, smart as Nick is, Amy wins in every way that counts. Back to feeling depressed. Fade to black.
To start, I was very much a Virgin to Gone Girl. I heard nothing about it, save that people liked it. I’d thought maybe kidnapping was involved. But most consistently, nobody — nobody — would tell me what it was about. They’d say, “I can’t discuss it without spoilers.” To which I felt, “Screw that: there must be something you can tell me.”
I guess I should thank all those folks, since if anyone had given me a rough outline of Gone Girl, I never would have seen it. And I’m glad I did, even though that woman makes my skin crawl. I like thrillers and dislike drama, and this one walks a line somewhere between both genres.
The cleverness of the plot is based on a somewhat dismal viewer realization: that no one in Gone Girl are nice people. Not the estranged couple, or Neil Patrick Harris’ character, Amy’s parents, her various neighbors, the story-chasing news casters, the lawyer (although at least he’s jovial about it)…I’ll make an exception for the sister and the detective. I actually kept waiting for the twin sister to kill Amy at the denouement, maybe offscreen, freeing up her brother and getting satisfaction for ridding the world of a very, very dangerous woman. One who should NOT be raising kids.
This is a bit glossed over in the end, but if I was the husband, I’d spend the next few years planning the perfect murder, before Amy terrorizes and ruins their child. (And I speak as a pacifist. Some psychopaths are too dangerous to keep alive.)
Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike were perfectly cast: I believed in their characters, the narrative, their pain, their violent tendencies. I felt like a voyeur at times, intruding on people’s private, very dirty laundry. Some details you’re better off not knowing about your neighbors, friends, co-workers, or even your spouse. Some people are too steeped in rot to be redeemed. Sometimes a thing is too broken to be fixed.
This is a hard one to grade, since it’s both an excellent flick, and one that’s intensely unpleasant to sit through. Is this a masterfully told, extraordinarily acted, awful film?
It’s not really my genre. I love a good thriller and a mystery, which this has in turns, but tonally it’s suffused with creeping dread and claustrophobic horror. Hitchcock would love this story. It’s almost too dark for words, even though the plot very much works, within the boundaries of flashback structures, the flow of acts, a distinctly non-linear narration, and an ending that makes you want to do bad things to bad people for good reasons. When it concludes, it’s sudden and unexpected: you’re left with only the pervasive sense of being trapped, for life, in a lethal, gilded cage.
[“I say they should take off and nuke the entire site from orbit. It’s the only way to be sure.” — Ripley, from Aliens.]
Movie Grade: B+
(A Virgin Movie Review is one where we haven’t seen the movie in question when it came out, and watched it with no particular expectations.)
Co-Creator of RunPee, Content Director, and Managing Editor. RunPee Jilly likes sci fi movies, fantasy films, action thrillers, chick flicks, and zany comedies…and possesses an inspiringly small bladder.