November 15, 2014

Movie Review: Gone Girl (2014) and Lessons About Marriage

Gone Girl is a book-to-movie project that only took 2 years to complete, compared to most movie projects, which take an average of four years (Maze Runner, Twilight, and Hunger Games are all examples of this). Once I heard the movie was being released, I re-read the book in anticipation of the movie release. I have to say, the book was outstanding. I work at a library, and many people were checking out this book. Sometimes I am slow to pick up a hot book, just because I can be stubborn. The book took a genre like suspense, and took it to the new level. The book changes viewpoints and storytelling strategies so many times, and just as you think you have finally predicted the ending, it ends in a way that no one could possibly expect.

Only recently did I find a book that compares called The Farm by Tom Rob Smith, released two years after Gone Girl. Suffice it to say, I am not often enamored with adult fiction. Gone Girl is truly special.

I went into the movie with high hopes, but also realizing that I might be disappointed just because I knew the plot. Would the movie live up to the hype I have been building up for two years? I am happy to report the movie was just right. I was able to forget about the book and let the movie tell the story.


For those readers that don't know the plot of Gone Girl, we meet Nick and Amy, a couple who seem like any other couple, only there is the problem that Amy has gone missing. As you might predict, Nick become the main suspect. We see the police investigation and the community pitching into help. It's not clear if Amy is missing or dead. We meet our couple and the people who hover around them: Nick's sister, Margo, Amy's parents, Rand and Marybeth, Amy's ex, Desi, and so on. All the while, we are getting to know what the marriage is like from some voiceover journal entries Amy has written. Like all couples, Nick and Amy have their secrets, only they aren't your average couple . . . or are they?

The plot of this movie is amazing. Just when we are getting bored and know what will happen, the game changes. We spend enough time at the beginning thinking we have learned who Amy is pretty well and what is motivating her, then at a key moment, the story switches to Amy's viewpoint, and we realize we have been looking at things at the wrong angle all along.

From the beginning, things are setup for us to be symphathetic with Nick, and that continues for a little while. They seem like just a regular unhappy couple who has become jaded as time has gone on. And the tension is still building. There are clues to follow in this story. Then we find out something about Nick that makes us despise him, not for the last time. We then learn more about Amy and see what's happened to her. She is not the girl we thought she was.

All of the actors do sizable jobs. The dialogue, though, is the real treat. There are quotes like: "When I think of my wife, I always think of the back of her head. I picture cracking her lovely skull, unspooling her brain, trying to get answers. The primal questions of a marriage: What are you thinking? How are you feeling? What have we done to each other? What will we do" These seem to speak to more than this couple. It makes viewers think about their own lives and marriages, and that makes a brilliant film.

Gone Girl, is a great story and will keep you guessing. But there's a deeper aspect to this. In a way, the path of Gone Girl is a map for almost any marriage, minus the violence and bloodshed. First you meet someone and you're oh so happy. No one in the world has ever been this happy. Also, you are your best self. Never before have you been so hardworking, so attentive, so caring. You are the best you have ever been at work and in life. You try your best to be "cool girl," as Amy says. Then the facade begins to drop. Your shiny armor starts to rust a little. Things aren't quite as attractive as they were. There's disillusionment and complacency. All the while you are asking your spouse the question, will you still love me? And you ask yourself, can I still love them? I didn't expect THIS. Your mind wanders, and you look around. You get angry and may resent the person. Maybe they tricked you. You want the shiny stuff back.

In this movie, Nick has to bury the Amy he thought he knew. Amy wonders, did you love me or the girl you thought I was. Nick feels like he's never good enough, and Amy wants the Nick back who used to treat her like a queen. These are all common things many men and women go through in marriage.

Gone Girl takes these common feelings and truths and uses them to create a tale of suspense and passion. It's entertaining and thought provoking. The film is rated R for violent images and sexual content/nudity.

No comments: