Film Views: “Gone Girl”

Gone Girl 1

There’s something very Machiavellian about the film “Gone Girl.”  What I mean by that is not only the central characters of the film, but the ancillary characters as well — well, most of them.  Niccolo Machiavelli was a keen observer of the human character, and he set forth his observations in the compact, but smarty written book, “The Prince.”  In it he notes how truly horrible we are as human beings and how political struggles are, at bottom, about power.  But it’s not only power that he writes about, but he sees into our souls and notes “… because men are wretched creatures who would not keep their word to you, you need not keep your word to them…one must know how to color one’s actions and to be a great liar and deceiver. Men are so simple, and so much a creature of circumstance, that the deceiver will always find someone ready to be deceived.”  You may protest and say “Oh, that’s not true!” But when you watch “Gone Girl,” it’s very much the case that we as a society can be more Machiavellian than we realize.

Gone Girl 2

Based on the bestselling novel by Gillian Flynn, the story is about Nick and Amy, a couple who seem to have a good marriage. They live in Missouri, but met in New York City when the two of them were young and working as writers. Nick comes home on the day of their five-year wedding anniversary to find the house somewhat trashed and his wife missing. The police are called, a detective is brought in and what ensues is a story of Nick being accused of killing his wife. The media, loving a juicy “Husband kills wife, but there’s no body to be found” story, jump head first into framing the disappearance of Amy. Almost everyone in Nick’s town and watching TV presumes Nick is guilty — because he sometimes gives off the vibe that he’s not all that broken up about Amy’s disappearance.

That’s the prelude to what turns out to be a very effective story that shows how larger forces can manipulate events to shift alliances and emotional ties between and among the characters. It’s an elaborate cat and mouse game with a kind of he said/she said point of view between the couple. Amy’s story is told mostly in flashbacks, while Nick’s focuses on the aftermath of Amy’s disappearance. I won’t giveaway any of the big surprises in this movie because all the fun would be ruined, but safe to say that the less you know going into this movie the better.

I thoroughly enjoyed the twists and turns “Gone Girl” took. In David Fincher’s skillful hands, Rosamund Pike and Ben Affleck just shine as actors — and so do Carrie Coon and Tyler Perry. The cast is very solid, the story is taut, and you’ll walk out of the theater with the shopworn phrase, “Hell hath no fury…” on your mind.

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