Thursday, November 6, 2014

Gone Girl, the movie

We don't often go to the movies, and when we do, I almost always get to pick what we see and Dan goes along for the ride.

The last few times, I've chosen movies that are too long and ultimately dissatisfying. The one before Gone Girl was the Tom Cruise blockbuster where he keeps having to live the day over and over, an action packed version of Groundhog Day, minus any attempts at humor or logic. We didn't hate that one--but it was another in a long line of what I call dick flicks, where the cast includes hundreds of men and two women. In this case, the two women neatly fell into the mother/whore dichotomy. One was the mommy of the evil doer and the other was a lovable prostitute. There may have been a third who was a little stronger--the main ninja trainer or whomever, but ends up not being quite as smart or wily as TC, and I think he gets to save her in the end.

There's this thing called the Bechdel Test developed by a woman comic where the movie isn't totally sexist if it meets the following criteria:

1. It has to have at least two [named] women in it
2. Who talk to each other
3. About something besides a man

In the TC movie, the women don't talk to each other at all--they live in different time spheres.

For more on this test, you read this link which will of course lead you to other links. You would be amazed at the number of films where this occurs, and the problem with this, says Bechdel and others, is that the women are essentially foils for the men's adventures. They don't really have any of their own inner life or agency or much of anything to discuss other than what's happening with the man/men in the movie.

But I digress...Gone Girl was one of these suspense films where they leave you to wonder if perhaps Ben Affleck really did kill his wife, but then about halfway through, they reveal that he did not kill her. Instead, we learned that she has cleverly framed him for her murder. This revenge comes about because she is angry about him losing his job and dragging her away from their life in New York City, for gobbling up what's left of her inheritance to open a crappy bar, and then for having an affair with younger woman with much less gray matter.

The problem I had with the film is that the framee, Amy, was completely unsympathetic and the framed, Ben A. wasn't enough of an asshole. So, the film seems to want you to root for him, not her, because what she has done is so out of line with his actions and because she seems to be without real emotion--like, you don't get the sense that she's lost it all and has no other recourse. On some level, you have to be rooting for the anti-hero--a more interesting conflict would arise if we felt like both were justified in their actions, and not just that she was the one who took it too far.

Also, don't have her stab Doogie Howser in the neck while having sex. It's kind of hard to root for her after that moment or to see her as anything more than an utter psychopath.

I did like the ending though, because they at least didn't pull this crazy twist ala Basic Instinct  or Fatal Attraction where the super smart and organized femme fatale makes a dumb mistake and gets caught. She doesn't get caught, regardless of how implausible and easy to disprove her kidnapping story would be. Her punishment is to end up with Ben Affleck.


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