Gone Girl

Gone Girl ★★★★½

"You don't even have a clue
Of all the things I'm doing to you"

- Vera Blue, 'Private'

Viewed with David Fincher's commentary track, which overlays the film's continuous anxiety with wonderful, sardonic musings. Always a joy to listen to this man discuss his process, a process that results in beautifully-measured paranoia here. It's been fascinating to feel Gone Girl evolve from a monumental mystery/horror into a heightened domestic thriller, different viewings revealing different shadings. A few times during the commentary, Fincher calls the film absurd, especially as it rolls into its third act. But to me, one of his greatest feats as a filmmaker is his ability to both ground and elevate potentially melodramatic material. He establishes a palpable reality, while ratcheting tension to titanic heights. Gone Girl is one of the best examples of this. Feels like a razor hovering at your throat for two and a half hours.

This is multi-tiered in that breathtaking Fincher way, but for me, the largest focus has always been on one thing: marriage. Nick and Amy Dunne are perfect. Nick and Amy Dunne are broken. Marriage is a prison, breeding contempt and suffering and total disillusionment. Nick and Amy get lost in their own heads, constructing fantasies to pummel each other with until they leave the other person in shattered pieces on the carpet. One of them reassembles those pieces into a form of power; the other can only sweep their pieces backwards and forwards so that they become dust. Nick's "what will we do?" – initially an odd question surrounded by an aura of possibility, but later a very, very scary question – continues to haunt me. While his preceeding line, alluding to what they "have done to each other", is bad enough, the film's chilling end note offers little hope. Only fear of a future we will never see.

But one of the most horrifying things about Gone Girl is that I don't need to see its future – I already see tinges of my own parents in Nick and Amy's relationship. A crucial difference is that my parents are good human beings. My parents are damn good parents. But they do not get how to properly communicate with each other. Their conversations scrape by, mostly, but I sense a underlying lack of respect and understanding. Like Nick and Amy, they can't shake the images they have of each other in their heads, so they talk to those delusions and expect the delusions to respond. A person responds instead. I worry I'll end up like this; everybody becomes their parents eventually or whatever. Gone Girl is almost like my parents taken to the extreme, magnifying their missteps, adding disappearances and mid-coitus throat-slitting.

I first saw this film with my mother. It probably didn't help any of this. I remember gripping my seat in the theatre, wishing I could know the thoughts going through her head – was she seeing her marriage too? – but remaining thankful that I couldn't. "All we did was resent each other, try to control each other. We caused each other pain," Nick tells Amy. I hear the voices of my parents every time. As if that didn't grab my anxieties enough by the throat, Amy then cooly replies, "that's marriage." Few films have terrified me as much as this.

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