The film ‘Gone Girl’ is not misogynisticPosted: October 5, 2014
Like the rest of America, I watched Gone Girl over the weekend. I’ve been in post-mortem mode ever since, reading all the think pieces about the book vs the movie, what It All Means, and whether or not that shadow in the shower scene towards the end of the film was Ben Affleck’s uncircumcised penis.
By far the most popular topic in the thriving subgenres of essays that are Gone Girl reactions is what known man’s man director David Fincher did to the cunning antiheroine Amy Dunne. According to both Amanda Dobbins and Nico Lang, Fincher made her the ‘psycho bitch,’ robbing Dunne of the interiority she had in the book and turning her into the demented, batshit crazy psychopath who does ridiculous shit because bitches be crazy. Lang argues,”One of the refreshing things about Gone Girl is that despite its Fatal Attraction veneer, it refuses to cast Amy as a villain—or worse, another “crazy bitch.” If she’s driven to unspeakable acts in her quest for marital revenge, it’s because Nick drove her to the edge.”
Uh, did we read the same book? Because from the get-go, Amy’s motivation for framing Nick as her murderer was always unclear and frankly weak and unbelievable. He cheated on her with a well-endowed co-ed, he moped around, he made her feel like a shrew—none of that, from a purely objective point of view, makes faking her own murder understandable. Not even close. Dobbins and Lang are right in one sense, Book Amy is simply more interesting than Movie Amy because her rants about society’s double standards regarding men and women are funny and trenchant and scorching. And also kind of irrelevant to the plot of the movie.
If you want to critique Fincher’s portrayal of women in his movies, go right ahead. My first blog post was about how misogynistic The Social Network was. But the difference between that movie and this one is that there are several women in Gone Girl who act as overt rebuttals to Amy’s unique brand of crazy. (Also there are simply more women with speaking roles in this movie than there have been in any other Fincher film). Think aboutt Margo played so wonderfully by Carrie Coon. She’s the most principled character in the film, the voice of reason, loyal but critical, loving but firm. Or Detective Boney, who throughout the movie, even when she is putatively ‘against Nick’ comes off as smart and observant. She’s committed to the objective truth.
Gone Girl the movie is many things. Darkly comic, twisted, scary, chockfull of great acting, crisp editing, performances that simultaneously go with and against type (I’m looking at you Tyler Perry who allegedly didn’t know who David Fincher was, and you Missi Pyle with your cartoon villain face and you Casey Wilson bringing some of Penny’s indefatigability to her role as ‘pregnant idiot’ Noelle Hawthorne). But it is not misogynistic.