Gone Girl

Gone Girl ★★★½

This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

This review may contain spoilers.

Amy was a personality quiz writer, this I am sure. Is Amy a psychopath or is Amy is a sociopath, this I am not so sure? (What even is the difference between a psychopath or a sociopath?) What I do know is that we don't want to necessarily say Amy is a "psychopath" or a "sociopath". To say Amy is a "psychopath" or a "sociopath" is to disregard her as merely one of those personality types she spewed out in her previous work as a personality quiz writer.

Amy is likely comorbid with multiple personality disorders like Antisocial Personality Disorder (APD) and Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). What we commonly believe to be characteristics of a psychopath most closely align with APD, a lack of remorse, a lack of guilt, and a lack of empathy. Amy seems to fit those qualities. But, Amy also participates in the idealization and demonization of herself and others, in self-injurious behavior, and in emotional dysregulation, which are features of BPD. There is probably more to Amy that I am missing, but that is what makes Amy such a complex character, for she is a character who is the product of her genetics (via the Amazing Amy writing parents) and her environment (via her experiences in relationships with people like Nick).

The reason why I am not too keen on Gone Girl is that the movie juggles too much at once. Gone Girl wants to garner sympathy for both Nick and Amy by letting the characters have their own chunk of the runtime. Gone Girl wants to pick apart the systems that reinforce the modern patriarchy. And Gone Girl wants to tap into what makes a "psychopath" so compelling. But, rarely is the intention compelling enough to warrant all the twists that build toward the finale.

The "cool girl monologue" in particular left me nonplussed for quite a while. Amy writes in a way that toes the line between specificities and universalities. As a former personality quiz writer, Amy knows how to spin her words to make readers feel special and validated. In reality, though, Amy is appealing to the part of the reader that wants to grasp onto something. This makes Amy a bit of an unreliable narrator does it not (or maybe it's the subpar script talking)? I would have liked Gone Girl to go harder and intertwine Amy's psychopathology with her takedown of the modern patriarchy, but the movie never does so effectively.

The actions are where Gone Girl can pick apart the systems that reinforce the modern patriarchy better. The "charming boy" persona that Nick uses to court Amy that matches her "cool girl" persona. The insistence of Detective Boney's partner that just because she thinks Nick might be innocent is because she has a thing for Nick. The not so subtle way that Desi wants Amy to return to her "normal" self after finding her on the run as a Southern gal. I could go on and on. There are a plethora of moments that make a case for Gone Girl being a feminist triumph and I am not here to discount that; Gone Girl becomes a test of what viewers consider amoral or not and that is where the argument breaks apart a little for me.

And the ending. I know I didn't focus much on Nick, but for people who experience abuse (not that Amy has not experienced abuse herself from Nick, but anyway), a lot times these same people stay. They stay for a chance that the next time will be better, but each time they choose to stay, the cycle of abuse continues. A baby won't solve this problem. I kind of wish Gone Girl focused on the psychopathy of Nick a little bit more. Maybe then the ending would feel more earned?

[This was an indirect recommendation from kathryn who said that she was not sure I would like Gone Girl since I might be dissuaded by the "more stupid portions of the beginning". I knew that I would be, but nevertheless I recorded this movie to my DVR. It's weird for me to read what essentially strangers in the LB community think I would like, but it makes me feel more part of the community. :)]

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