I saw Gone Girl with three friends. Two had read the book when it first blew up. One had read the first quarter, then gave up and read a synopsis instead. I had just read the book for the first time a few weeks before the movie opened. All of us had a middling to strong idea of what was going to happen. And yet, walking out of the theater, we all had the same reaction: “Man, that was really fucked up.”
(NOTE: In order to get to my thesis statement, I’ll need to give away details of the story’s plot. So here’s your customary “SPOILER ALERT.”)
I mean, really though, this story is the pinnacle of “fucked up.” I’m not talking about the part where a wife frames her husband for her own murder. I’m talking about the other part of the twist. The part where we find out that said wife, Amy, had created a fake persona for the entirety of the seven years she’d known her husband. She was pretending to be the “Cool Girl” — the girl that laughs at all the jokes, never gets mad, and makes her beauty seem effortless. But that wasn’t her, not really. That was the person she decided to be to attract her eventual-husband, Nick. But that whole time, inside her head, she was really the type of cold, calculating person who could frame a man for murder.
After our film dissection got past the point of each of us restating how “fucked up” the movie was, we started talking about how capable people can be at hiding themselves. One friend even joked about being slightly convinced that their S.O. would someday frame them for murder.
But if you think about it, aren’t we all guilty of doing exactly what Amy does? Not the murder and framing part, but the hiding part? Think about the last person you dated. Can you honestly say you were completely yourself at the beginning of that relationship? How long did it take you to uncover your true self and once you did, were you afraid it would become the reason the two of you weren’t together anymore?
What really speaks to me about the “Gone Girl” case study is specifically Amy’s decision to be the “Cool Girl.” I’m pretty sure that decision is something every 20-something girl has made when meeting a guy she truly likes. We all strive to be the Cool Girl. We don’t want to be seen without makeup. We don’t want to nag. We don’t want to unload our problems too soon. But, unlike this fictional character who keeps up the jig for years, our facades usually wear off much sooner. Who IS that girl, exactly? An exhausted girl who doesn’t have naturally flawless skin and does let things bother her. If we’re lucky, we’ve already chosen a guy who’s okay with that (not unlike the ending of the story at hand, by the way).
So, yes. “Gone Girl” is fucked up, but I think it’s mostly fucked up for the truth that we see in it. Amy and Nick are a cautionary tale for what kind of relationships we could end up in in 10 years or less unless we let our guard down. We can’t use it as an excuse not to date. “Well have you seen “Gone Girl”? I mean, this dude seems nice enough, but what if he’s pulling an Amy on me?!?”
Instead, look at it as a reason to be honest from the beginning. I’d hope that if I bring that level of honesty to the relationship, I’d also be demanding it from my partner.
And if all else fails and you end up in a relationship with your own Amy, have a stash of money for a good lawyer. You know, just in case..