The Flaw in "Gone Girl"

The Flaw in "Gone Girl"

There's a huge flaw in the brilliant David Fincher film, Gone Girl - and it gets me every time.

Perhaps it's a matter of taste (I doubt it). Entertain me for a second - 

I'm simply responding to the story David Fincher has presented. And with this flaw, the road leads back to Mr. Fincher, unfortunately. 

If the narrative presented is true, and we accept it as perfect; there is a point where the perfection breaks. And it's near the end of Act 2.

Between Amy getting robbed at the rented cabin by the Huckleberry Finn-esque characters,  and her murdering Neil Patrick Harris, her likability flat-lines. The cool girl from the cool girl monologue is no where to be found. She turns into a Terminator-esque psychopath. And that's really unfortunate.

The curious 3rd Act wraps everything in a profound bow (kinda similar to Phantom Thread in hindsight), but every time I see the end of the 2nd Act, I think about this.

It just seems not right to empathize with Nick's character for the entire movie, but view Amy as a murderous psychopath for a whole segment of the movie. It should be equal, if both are equal (it's a marriage, after all).

So, how could this be remedied? The most efficient, congruent way I see to balance the energies of the film, I believe, can be located in this scene:

This is the moment when the tables turn in her mind, and yet visually - cinematically - that information is not conveyed as strongly as it could. My point of comparison for this, after all, is David Fincher: and the way he sets up Nick's character from the very beginning.

The camera is extremely intimate on Nick as we peer into the his tiniest, private movements. Although they're micro details, they convey a wealth of aesthetic information which help us understand what's in his head, and help us like him.

And the same is true for Amy - during the flashbacks as conveyed in her diary, and even during the 3rd Act, when she returns home. But at the end of the 2nd Act, she's simply unlikable. If anything, she's loathsome.

To be consistent with the rest of the film, Amy should've be likable during this sequence.

She can still be a monster... but a relatable monster: our monster. The monster within.

My suggestion is to visually hammer the idea that her wheels are turning, that she's desperate & trying to survive, and just saw the answer to all of her problems - which so happens to include Nick, and the possibility to re-introduce love into her life and hey why not? Better than suicide.

This kind of epiphany scene David Fincher does really well, and it's also featured in Gone Girl

For example, Nick discovering a woodshed with toys in it had more dramatic emphasis than Amy's radical aha moment to kill the guy who's helping her & return home to the other guy she tried to frame for murder. 

This could be accomplished as simply as lingering on her close up more during the television interview scene, and really work that micro-expression voodoo.

And I believe Fincher directs the scene with that intention in mind: to show her eyes moving, and depict her working out the new path in her head... However, it's far too subtle & intellectual, considering the formal bluntness of many of Nick's epiphanies / turning points. 

That one simple change would have continued the tradition of Amy being a fucked but relatable character; which matches the character identification of Nick, who's fucked yet also relatable; and in the end, they marry in their fucked yet relatable union. Theme complete.

If Amy was more visually relatable near the end of the 2nd Act, during that pivotal mental turning point inside her head, Gone Girl would be perfect. Ironically, the movie ends with a male voice over an image of Amy's head, wondering what's in it...

Don't Edit Your Own Movies

Don't Edit Your Own Movies

The First Cut of "Le Joli Mai" (1963)

The First Cut of "Le Joli Mai" (1963)