Gone Girl plays to all the clichés about men mistreating women. The kicker is when you realize that the movie is doing this and why.
Nick and Amy have been married for five years….and endured a problem-filled marriage for the last couple years. He is distant, ignoring her unless he wants her. She makes Nick feel terrible, knowing that he is a huge disappointment to her. She has all the money—she is a trust-fund baby—and buys a bar for him and rents a house for them in her name. He is emasculated.
Nick appears at the bar one morning, the morning of his fifth anniversary. His marriage is on the rocks. There is no love lost between Nick and Amy any more. It sounds like a joyless marriage; two unhappy people bound until death do they part.
Nick is called home by a neighbor who sees their front door open and the cat roaming the neighborhood. It looks like a scuffle occurred in the living room. Nick calls the police, who walk through the house with him and see small signs and blood spots here and there.
Amy’s disappearance quickly turns from a missing person to a murder case. The police investigation uncovers a struggle in the kitchen with huge amount of blood being cleaned up, blood that matches Amy’s blood type. Suddenly Nick is prime suspect number one.
When his affair with an early 20 something student comes to light, hatred of him across the country reaches its peak. At some point, Nick laments to his twin sister that he is sick of being picked on by women. He is the poor male who felt disrespected by his wife and sought love in the arms of another woman.
Amy, in contrast, is depicted as a loving wife, neglected yet striving to do anything to remain relevant and loved by her husband. She writes journal entries about their early relationship, getting engaged, first years of their marriage, and subsequent issues in the marriage. Her last entry describes her fear of her husband. People discover that she had attempted to purchase a gun, presumably to protect herself from Nick.
Halfway through the movie I start to suspect that I am being played and then the plot twists, which causes a sharp intake of air. I am faced with reexamining all my assumptions.
The movie is full of socio- and psychopaths. Some are portrayed as such. Some are assumed to be so. And some really are. Their roles twist and turn based on assumptions and perspectives. The lesson of the movie is that perceptions are easily manipulated and people easily led astray. Emotions can be inflamed by others to suit their purposes. And what you take to be the truth may not be.
Gone Girl is based on a novel, which I assume would be a fascinating read. The movie is well made and pulls you in. You assume, you believe, you realize your mistaken perceptions and how easily you can be manipulated. And then you feel ashamed and scared by how easy it was to believe a manufactured “truth”.