By: Katie Christoff – A&E Editor
“Gone Girl” needs to be talked about.
And I don’t mean by the media. The film adaptation has received enough press, deservedly so, but that’s not what I’m referring to. What I mean is that once you’ve seen the film, you’ll be overwhelmed with the urge to discuss it with anyone and everyone. This dark, twisty thriller makes audiences think, which has undoubtedly contributed to the attention “Gone Girl” has received since the novel’s publication in 2012.
The film adaptation was released Oct. 3 and topped the box office for the next two weekends.
It’s difficult to give any background information without giving something away, because the story has so many twists and turns from the beginning. Put simply, “Gone Girl” tells the story of a wife, Amy Elliott Dunne (Rosamund Pike), who goes missing on the fifth anniversary of her wedding to husband Nick Dunne (Ben Affleck). As her disappearance becomes the focus of intense media scrutiny and the troubles of their marriage are uncovered, Nick is quickly found guilty in the court of public opinion.
It’s no secret that book-to-film translations often disappoint, due in large part to the hype and expectations surrounding them. Well aware of this fact, I tried not to get my hopes up, but this film adaptation broke the stereotype of “ruining the book.”
Author Gillian Flynn worked closely with director David Fincher (who also directed “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” film adaptation) to ensure that the story translated to film without losing its complexity.
“Here’s what I tell the people who say they don’t like the movie as much as the book: They are two entirely different things,” Flynn said earlier this month in an interview with Rolling Stone. “A book you have control over; with your mind, you can picture whatever you want. With a movie, you’re surrendering to someone else’s vision.”
Although “Gone Girl” is primarily a mystery, it serves as a social commentary on relationships and the media. The media is quick to paint the picture of the missing Amy as “America’s sweetheart” and Nick as a murderous, lying villain. Flynn presents the viewpoint that the media particularly latches on when an attractive white woman goes missing because such cases present the best opportunity for publicity. With no evidence, no murder weapon and no body, the media and the public are quick to condemn Nick as his wife’s killer, simply because that would make a good story.
WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD
I can’t talk about the significance of “Gone Girl” without addressing the driving force of the story: the character of Amy Elliott Dunne. Without giving too much away, Amy is a smart and psychotic woman. Flynn has been accused of misogyny for simply writing this character, and this is something that needs to be talked about. That criticism is extremely misplaced.
Women are never portrayed as villainously as Amy Dunne in “Gone Girl.” Most female characters, when unhappy in their relationship, are portrayed as a crazy bitch. They are petty, nagging and downright annoying – it’s no wonder their husbands want to leave them.
Amy Dunne is much more complex than that.
She fakes her own death and masterminds a cover-up so elaborate that she successfully vanishes from sight and frames her husband for her murder. She fakes a pregnancy and murders an ex-lover. Amy is absolutely a sociopath, but that doesn’t seem to be as controversial as the fact that she is a strong female character.
“The idea that creating someone like Amy, who has so many different facets to her, the fact that people are surprised by a female character like that, still, in 2014, I think is kind of … pathetic,” Flynn told Rolling Stone. “It’s shocking that the amount of women that we have onscreen are anything aside from loving girlfriends, needy girlfriends, good moms or a feisty lieutenant who barks some orders and is dismissed. What I like about Amy is so many people’s own opinions about her.”
Flynn isn’t misogynistic for writing such an unflattering female character. She’s simply showing that women can be as interesting and powerful as men.
In a film review for Refinery29, blogger Neha Gandhi writes: “Yes, you can call her a psychopath, but you absolutely should not dismiss her as a ‘crazy bitch.’ Because she’s so much more calculating and interesting than that.”
Amy’s character alone should spark hours of discussion among viewers after seeing the movie.
Even if you haven’t read the book, I encourage you to see the movie, because it’s just as great, in a different way. As Flynn said herself, film and print are entirely different mediums, but this film tells a thrilling tale that will leave you obsessed with the world of Nick and Amy Dunne.
“I do think it’s going to be the kind of film that you have to go out for a drink afterwards — alcoholic or not — and really discuss it,” Flynn told Rolling Stone. “I’m looking forward to that.”
Like I said, “Gone Girl” needs to be talked about.