Is The Gone Girl Movie Going To Be Insufferable Or Mesmerizing?
Let me say this up front, just so we’re clear: I hated Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. Actually, I didn’t just hate Gone Girl, I hated every critic who incepted my brain with their positive reviews, convincing me that I had to read Gone Girl immediately or else I was missing out on the greatest domestic mystery/drama ever bound and published. If you haven’t read the book, it’s about two insufferable people, one of whom isn’t just insufferable, but is also psychotic…and–blanket spoiler alert, seriously there’s going to be a lot of book spoilers–they end up procreating. Actually, as a prequel to The Bad Seed, Gone Girl wouldn’t be so bad. But this isn’t a website dedicated to literary rage. This is a film website and Gone Girl is going to be a movie directed by David Fincher and potentially starring Ben Affleck as the unbelievably self-obsessed “nice guy” Nick. So my question is, is Gone Girl the film going to be unwatchable (think The Break-Up on steroids) or is it going to be mesmerizing?
I may have hated the book with a passion I usually reserve for celery and people who say “no offense, but…,” but I love David Fincher. The man’s directorial work is stunning. From Zodiac to Panic Room and The Social Network, Fincher has proven to be both a versatile and darkly stylish director. Even in Alien 3, a film I could take or leave, his work in shooting the grimy world Ripley finds herself in was exceptional. Furthermore, he has a knack for taking on stories about challenging people and finding their humanity. The prime example of this being The Social Network, which came with a rapid fire script from Aaron Sorkin. Sorkin’s dialogue made the movie sing, but it was Fincher’s soft colors and lingering shots that made the fictional Mark Zuckerberg played by Jesse Eisenberg a character who could make our hearts break. If any director can find the soul in a story as soulless as Gone Girl, it’s Fincher.
One man can only do so much though. If the deal goes through with Affleck, the film will have found its perfect male lead. Affleck may be from Massachusetts, but he won’t have any trouble playing an average, handsome Midwestern guy whose deepest secrets involve affairs and sneaking off to abandoned garages to read his old magazine articles. A few years ago, that’s basically how Hollywood viewed Affleck anyway– a pretty face that they had no idea what to do with. Those days are long gone now that Affleck has proven to be both a gifted director and a more than capable actor. He seems ideally suited to take on Nick, to channel both his cluelessness and his thirst for revenge in a way that could make the audience if not embrace the character, then at the very least to understand what makes him tick.
The wild card here is Amy. Oh, Amy. She’s the ultimate evil mastermind…at least in her own head. The book often desired to posit Amy’s deep self love and intellect as a gateway to present a sort of feminist manifesto, but it too often fed into the angry feminist, or worse unstable feminist, stereotypes (and pop culture has presented us with more than enough of those particular misconceptions). Amy is a psychopath; there’s no getting around it. On the one hand, the idea of a twisted female protagonist on the big screen is thrilling. For an actress, it would be a meaty, likely Oscar caliber role. The kind of dark and twisty territory where women generally aren’t allowed to tread. On the other hand, having been inside Amy’s head it was such an overwhelmingly awful place to be, I’m not sure I want to book a return visit.
If Affleck is the perfect choice for Nick, then which actress can take on the unforgiving role of Amy and make audiences feel something other than complete and utter loathing? The names being bandied around right now (according to The Wrap) include Charlize Theron, Natalie Portman and Emily Blunt. I know they could all pull the role off; particularly Theron and Portman, who have proven to be adept at playing psychological roles in the past with Monster and Black Swan. Truthfully, I’d rather the role go to someone a bit more unexpected. Anne Hathaway, who the public turned on for no good reason at all, would be my first pick. She’s always so genuine, so to see her take that part of her persona and turn it inside out would be a cinematic treat. One that would make the marriage from hell drama palatable.
Which brings me to my biggest concern: movies about couples in the throes of breaking up are the most unpleasant genre this side of torture porn. Actually, they’re emotional torture porn. I know some people love War of the Roses and Who’s Afraid of Virginia Wolf? and other films about marriages dissolving, but for me, they’re the bad kind of drama. The painful, but not in an edifying way, kind of drama. And Gone Girl amps the train-wreck factor up by a thousand. This is a story about two bad people trapped in a bad economy who do truly awful things to each other and the people around them. There are metaphors about the current state of the world and gender roles, sure, but they’re buried so far under the sheer weight of Nick and Amy’s despicable natures, it’s hard to care.
Still, the advantage that Fincher has over Flynn is that he doesn’t have to make us live inside their heads. We merely have to observe and in the observation, perhaps, Nick and Amy’s tale might be one worth revisiting.
What do you think? Are you game for a Gone Girl movie? Do you have a dream cast in mind? Sound off below.
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