Thoughts on Gone Girl: Does Amy Dunne Represent “Women”?

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I went to see the film adaptation of Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl this weekend, expecting to love it. The creepy trailers had drawn me in, convinced me of the suspense, the drama, the did-he-or-didn’t-he question that I was sure would drive the movie—most of those things, I suppose, still turned out to be true. The problem, though: while the film certainly retained its drama throughout its (overly long) running time, it lost, by the movie’s midpoint, the two things I had most looked forward to. That is, the suspense and the big question.

The result: a surprising amount of boredom toward a movie marketed as a murder mystery.

Even while sitting in my theatre seat, I wondered why I wasn’t feeling it. The first act gripped me, sure, but then lost me as soon as the mystery was essentially solved right before my eyes in the second act. From that point on, the best part of the story disappeared, and characters once swathed in complexity now became simpler, more monstrous, incomprehensible psychopaths.

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To me, anyway. I wondered then, whether this film so tied up by the recession and marital problems, lawyers and the media, might be more suited to the critics—people, for the most part, much older than me, with more automatic experience in those areas.

Plus, I admit I wasn’t prepared for—and didn’t much care to answer—the question raised a thousand times by the (real life) media about whether Amy, the missing woman, represented misogyny or misandry, and what that means for the perception of women everywhere.

By the second act, for example, I erased any notion of Amy Dunne having any sort of position to artistically represent “all women” as they are perceived by “men” or the “media.” Personally, as a young, unmarried woman, I couldn’t care about this particular woman driven mad by the world, by her husband, by the type of femininity imposed on her by her parents—if one of these reasons are really to blame. Never once in the film was she portrayed as embodying any sort of admirable quality at all. Why should I care about the state of Amy Dunne when she dismisses herself—and others—from the moment I meet her? She only wants to hurt people.

While I do perceive this movie as being far more feminist than anti-feminist, I still can’t quite melt with praise calling it an honest depiction of the ways that society controls women and forces them to play certain roles, then lets men do as they please. Because I can’t imagine how Nick and Amy Dunne in any way characterize collective “men” and “women,” even in their most ignorant, prejudicial states. Their story seemed too isolated, too driven by selfishness and insanity, to ever represent a collective discussion on modern gender roles.

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Despite my language, I admit that I can acknowledge this as an excellent film. Great acting, great style, great score, unusual circumstances. But what I had been told about it just wasn’t what I saw—what I perceived.

Besides, in a story blown up into this collective representation and symbol of feminism, in a world where female protagonists appear in a dismal percentage of films, why must we restrict those characters to these Amy Dunne-like “strong” women, and not include a dose of goodness almost always applied to “strong” men?

Anyway. Since I only saw the movie one day ago, I suppose there must be a lot I’ve missed and failed to consider in the brief minutes spent writing this. Perhaps I’ll return with better, more correct ideas one day. Until then.

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One thought on “Thoughts on Gone Girl: Does Amy Dunne Represent “Women”?

  1. I get you on this point. Once it’s revealed that Amy is a controlling psychopath, I started losing interest in the story. Her character became yet another in the “impossible enemy” genre (a phrase I use to name my mental demons but equally applicable here.) These characters are so completely inhuman, that they cannot, in fact, _be_ human, rendering them fictional in my mind and shattering any remaining suspension I had to my disbelief.

    I wondered, though, if Amy was a step “forward” as a rare example of a _female_ impossible enemy, or not. It makes me think of androids: when computers were considered mysterious and powerful, androids were portrayed men, but as the average person realized that computers are just elaborate but ultimately simple tools, female androids started appearing. Likewise, perhaps, is that the purebred killer was once frighteningly powerful and therefore always male, but as we collectively understand the weak and damaged psychology of these kinds of people, suddenly we have Amy Dunne.

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