Oscars Countdown 2015 - Gone Girl

Ensign Lestat's Oscars Countdown, 16/01/2015

Gone Girl

Nominations - Best Actress (Rosamund Pike)

Here's the thing - I'm biased against David Fincher. Really, I am. I just get this weird ick feeling every time I hear Fincher's attached to a film, and worse, if he's tying up with his equally ick-inducing writing compadre Aaron Sorkin.

So I was gobsmacked that he was signed on to direct the female-author written book 'Gone Girl'. I haven't read the book; been meaning to, but I've got a backlog of several other books to finish beforehand. I was sure to read the book before Oscar season, (spoiler alert, it didn't pan out) but lo and behold, the season has arrived, the nominees have been announced, and thank all who care, Fincher and his film got but one nomination - Best Actress for Rosamund Pike.

Since the film was available on blu-ray, it just happens to be my first entry for this year's Oscars Countdown.

The film is essentially in three acts - Act 1 follows the exploits of desperate husband Nick (Ben Affleck), as he searches for his missing wife. The truth about him unfolds during the course of the film's extraordinary 2 and a half hour length (who makes films that long, nowadays?).

Partway through we abruptly switch points of view, seeing through the eyes of Amy (Pike). She's an uncanny character. She possesses an intellect far beyond imagination and uses it to... make herself appear as a constant victim of the men in her life.

The third act sees the two points of view come together as the stories and characters mingle.

I've read a lot about the film and its disparities with the book. The film has been adapted by the author of the book itself, and appears to be a close adaptation to boot. However, the medium of film itself is problematic, as many have found out. It leaves out internal monologue and therein lies the worrying implications of Gone Girl. Amy comes across as a crazy psychopath; every man's worst nightmare, because she will do and say things that will sink you for good.

In fact, there's a shocking number of crazy women in this film. Unlikeable is one thing, but these people disgusted me on a moral level. The same groupieism (I made that word up) on display in the film, was showcased in a dark arc of episodes in CSI. Lawrence Fishburne was part of that arc, and I have to admit my appreciation of him and his abilities grew ten-fold when I saw him in CSI. But, the point is, the crazy groupies in CSI were part of the narrative question. Here, they're just shown as the typical 'hysterical women' trope.
I feel that in a world already overrun with paranoid men, a film like this will just skew the views against women even more. And in the hands of a Fincher, it's pretty much missed its mark. Amy's motivations for her psychopathic actions are not touched upon, but she is not categorised as mentally insane either. This separates the book's view of the character from the film's, and since the film is more open to the masses, people will see Amy as a negative reflection of women. Buzzfeed had some good insight into what was missing about Amy in the film.

My biggest surprise was the sheer number of women present in the film - the significant female characters outnumbered the male ones, and that's only possible because a woman wrote the book (and the script) to begin with. 

It was also good to see that most of those characters weren't overly sexualised. Even Amy, despite her scenes, is always shown as being in complete control of her sexuality, a subject often absent in Fincher's films, and in films in general. I credit that to the writer being female. We could have done without any nudity at all, but this is Fincher, and he would probably have had a heart-attack if there wasn't any in it 

The performances all bordered on attempted subtlety to 'just playing me'. My entire family was enthused to see the film (they haven't seen it yet) because of NPH. But Neil Patrick Harris has a minuscule role and his acting was pathetic. Now I'm beginning to wonder if he lacks skills and the world just loves him because NPH!! or if this was a one-off. I love NPH, but I've seen very little of his work and I am quite astounded that his performance was so poor in this film. It can't be like this all the time. Can it?

The biggest shock, however, is Amy. I am stunned that Pike has received a nom for this role. How poor were Hollywood's female roles this year that a blank-faced trope such as this has walked off with a nod? She is one-toned throughout - her unblinking stare moving marginally from doe-eyed to vapid. This deserves a nom? Am I missing something? Steely-eyed is one thing, this was far below that.

The storyline is intriguing and well-developed (again, a credit to the author). But, it is divisive because of its methods. I agree that we do not get enough complicated antagonist/ anti-hero roles for women, but doing so at the cost of dragging the entire gender through the mud does feminism a great disservice. Amy should have been a nightmare for people in general, not another crutch for men to shout 'women be crazy' - which it will (if it hasn't already) become. 


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