Gone Girl David Fincher (USA 2014); screenplay by Gilllian Flynn from her own novel Rosamund Pike; Ben Affleck Viewed: Empire Cinema 14 Oct 2014; ticket £3.50
From princess to psychopath – a contemporary fable
These Hollywood ‘relationship’ flicks always try to promote themselves as offering a new lamps for old deal on the nature of relations. But the movie’s claim on our attention though strong on lofty purpose: “Gone girl unearths the secrets at the heart of a modern marriage” is, as is generally the case, no more than a modesty patch covering up the frenzied murderous Valkyrie-esque ride of the script, which celebrates modern psychopathic woman as: the winner. Welcome to the new domestic CEO.
As do all the American suburban dwellings in Hollywood movies, the Dunns’ abode looks like a Doll’s House. (it’s interesting that the script incorporates the characteristic feature of a stage set, its insubstantial wobbly quality, to ‘prove’ the nature of the supposed assault on Amy) The Dunn’s place doesn’t looked lived in which is of course how its meant to look, a sort of idealised setting for action. But the Doll’s House look reminded me of Ibsen’s play, A Dolls House which also explored marriage as a mutual fantasy of misunderstanding. So no change here: from 19th to 21st century marriage has always had the potential of being a Gorgon’s head of bad sex murderous intention and oppression. It’s just today the gender and role mix is stitched up differently.
Ibsen’s marital drama was naturalistic in form, Fincher/ Flynn’s movie ( I haven’t read the book) is of course fantastical. I wondered if it is actually about marriage? Perhaps it’s real focus is some place else but it uses the marriage mode of relationship as an expressive template that disguises another realm of concern. The Nick role, male protagonist is drawn out as regular. Not too smart, easily deluded and, unable to communicate with Amy, his sex life with her is on a par ‘with masturbation’. So he finds himself some new pussy.
Amy role is that of the wife. But she is imagined by the script as a magical realist invention. She’s a mythical sorceress, an over the top mad Hollywood blend of Circe Medusa Nemesis whose powers are unleashed against eternal perfidy of the male, in the form of her husband. But is Nick’s perfidy the actual force that drives Amy to unleash, in parodied form her revenge upon his unsuspecting person? (Like many Hollywood movies what makes the rather overlong film watchable is its referencing and parodying of movies of like genre)
Sketched lightly into the open sequences of the movie, which provide some back story, (possibly more detailed in Flynn’s novel) is the idea that Amy is a modern ‘princess’. That is to say she has had the fairy tale status of ‘princess’ bestowed upon her by her family. In Amy’s case her parents exploited their vision of her ‘specialness’ by writing a series of books idealising her childhood. ‘Amy-Princess’ growing up in a charmed aura turns into ‘Amy-Psychopath’. She becomes a jealous idol that demands, that the adulation of her perfected attributes that defined her as a little girl, be extended into her adulthood
Film and book are called: Gone Girl: not Gone Woman. And when Amy returns it is captioned as Back Girl not Back Woman. Amy as woman is girl not woman, a child tyrant who demands and does not ask.
Nick’s infidelity triggers Amy’s latent powers. Like a child she first seeks his obliteration and destruction. But when circumstances change her magical realist CEO powers of anticipation organisation and logistics are directed at what is becomes her preferred goal: the total domination of Nick. His use as a sperm provider and ancillary consort, a necessary but controllable element in the perfect picture of coupledom. Nick exists to be a prince (frog prince?) along side his princess. Gone Girl then works as parody, turning upside down the Ibsenesque and twentieth century proposition that marriage exists for the subjection of women by men. Gillian Flynn shows that in the twenty-first century roles are reversed: marriage exists for the subjugation of men.
In its choice of subject matter and best selling authors as oracles of the Zeitgeist, Hollywood often takes depth soundings of changes of the collective unconscious. Hence, the Zombie the Visions of Apocalypse testify to the dark subterranean angst that characterises Western society. It seems that Amy and Nick’s marriage can also be taken as a wider allegory for the balance of power between the genders. A balance of power that sees ever more women take the public space. But despite the assertions of some feminists that such a feminin take over will lead to the emergence of softer less authoritarian management, the collective psyche fears that those woman who make their way to the top, will often claw their way up. It will be women driven by demons who will succeed the men. They will be indistinguishable from the men in their cruelty and ruthlessness pursuit and grip on power. Men and women may be different in style and expression, but daddy’s princess will be as dangerous as mummy’s boy to anyone who gets in their way.
Adrin Neatrour firstname.lastname@example.org