What The Audience Got Wrong About “Gone Girl”

Gone Girl
Gone Girl’s tagline.

When Gone Girl first came out, a lot of people had no idea what it was about, or even what genre it was. Many had been expecting to see a mystery flick, some action, maybe a murder scene, some kind of romantic subplot. Those people were totally floored. Not only was the film beautifully produced, the story kept even the snobbiest film students engaged to the point of audibly gasping for air during each and every twist. Many called it their favorite movie of the year.

And it was so incredibly disappointing to see the response it drew from so many young men.

After the week of its release, the web was buzzing with Facebook statuses and tweets urging people to go see the movie, that it was amazing, etc, etc. But sprinkled among these typical posts were some that raised eyebrows.

Gone Girl

“Gone Girl proves that all women are psycho!”

“If you don’t believe my ex was a crazy bitch, go see Gone Girl!”

“This movie just shows how women will lie about anything to get what they want!”

Somehow, a huge subset of men were able to come away from that movie with the idea that instead of watching a thriller with no clear protagonist about the difficulties of marriage and sharing your life with someone, they’d watched a poor, defenseless man get completely screwed by his crazy wife. Their takeaway was that “bitches be crazy”, and women lie.

Gone Girl is the story of a failed marriage, in which both the husband and wife have made serious mistakes. Nick Dunne and Amy Dunne met when they were young, attractive, and successful, and over the course of their five-year marriage, they became increasingly less so. Both members of the relationship made decisions that were deeply selfish and hurtful to their partner; Nick’s decision to move to Missouri, and Amy’s decision not to go back to work after getting canned are just small examples of the many ways the marriage went awry. On the morning of their five-year anniversary, Amy runs away and makes it seem like her husband Nick killed her in a twisted revenge plot since she discovered he was having an affair with a younger woman.

This story is a thriller; the plot is furthered through a series of surprise reveals, red herrings, and as much shock value as possible. Both characters make decisions and take actions that follow corrupted moral compasses: Nick uses a newfound public image to draw an emotional reaction from his estranged wife, and Amy ends up murdering her ex-boyfriend to pin her disappearance on him when she decides to forgive Nick.

Somehow, a subset of the film’s audience did not determine this film to have no solid protagonist, as author and screenwriter Gillian Flynn intended. Instead, a large amount of people came to the side of Ben Affleck’s version of Nick Dunne, and agreed that this film was “proof” that women are crazy and will lie to get what they want.

Some even claimed that the film proved women are likely to lie about being raped.

When Amy Dunne decided to forgive Nick, as a result of his manipulative TV interviews following public accusations against him, she needed to find a new person to blame for her disappearance. She chose a particularly creepy ex-boyfriend, Desi, to be her scapegoat, but because this is a dramatic thriller film, she went further thanjust murdering him and claiming self-defense. Amy seduced Desi and inflicted wounds consistent with rape on herself in order to implicate Desi posthumously as a psychotic stalker.

Gone Girl - Desi Murdered
Sorry, NPH, you died in this movie.

What the audience seemed to misunderstand is that Amy Dunne is a character in a story that is all about crazy people. Gone Girl is not a representation of women’s immediate responses to infidelity. It is not, as many have joked, a “how-to manual” for “crazy ex-girlfriends.” It’s a fictional story that depicts the escalating desperation between a couple of dangerous, unhinged people. The characters aren’t supposed to be emulated, and the author does not assume that they have been emulated by 90% of the audience. They are a hyperbolic representation.

It’s uncomfortable, and even dangerous, when people compare women, as a whole, to characters like Amy Dunne. Uncomfortable because no one likes to be compared to a murderer, much less an entire gender, but dangerous as well, because it perpetuates a lie that society has been telling for years: that women lie about being raped.

As mentioned earlier, to implicate Desi as her kidnapper, Amy inflicts wounds on herself that are consistent with rape. In one of the most chilling scenes of the movie, the audience watches her penetrate herself with a broken bottle, totally expressionless. It’s terrifying and grotesque, and played off to be as shocking as possible. Women in the audience were as horrified as men in the audience, and yet, men all over social media used this scene as evidence that women will do whatever it takes to achieve their sadistic goals. In this case, “whatever it takes” meant “lie about rape.”

Gone Girl- AmyViolence against women has become more and more normalized in media and popular culture over the years, and today, we are so saturated with images of this kind of violence that we are almost totally desensitized. As a result of this kind of desensitization, it becomes easy to assume that women who speak up about their experiences as victims of assault — sexual or physical — are lying or exaggerating. The problem with Gone Girl isn’t that the directors, writers, or actors attempted to normalize or justify Amy’s behavior. It’s that audiences have become so accustomed to seeing outrageous acts of violence, particularly against women, that we subconsciously normalized the behavior as an audience. Instead of reeling when they watched Amy’s revenge plot spiral out of control, they thought, Yeah, I can see a woman doing that. They allowed prejudices to distort their perception of a work of fiction, and they carried it over into everyday life.

Gillian Flynn’s novel that the movie was based on was published in 2012. The movie was released in 2014. In two short years, what was regarded as total out-of-the-box insanity was suddenly being labeled as “typical female BS.”

That’s scarier than the movie itself.

What do you think? Leave a comment.

Posted on by
Kathleen is a TV production professional in the greater NY area. She is also a freelance writer published across the web.

Want to write about Film or other art forms?

Create writer account


  1. Emily Deibler

    Excellent work here, and I agree. While the narrative does deal with the brutal downward spiraling of an increasingly toxic relationship, and that’s commentary on its own, it is definitely disturbing that Amy’s behavior would be used to shame all women, especially when a good deal of these women are likely survivors of domestic abuse and/or rape. (And victims of these have such a difficult time coming forward because of how unsupportive their surroundings may be, even away from the abuse.) Neither of the spouses should be taken as models of typical female or male behavior. The circumstances of Gone Girl are almost fantastical with the, as you said, “total out-of-the-box insanity.” There are definitely some exaggerations and extremes at work that shouldn’t be taken as generalized real life facts.

  2. Munjeera

    Agreed 100% that Gone Girl is incorrectly interpreted by some audiences. It is more about peeling off the thin veneer of civility to reveal our negative but for most people, dormant side. The intent of the movie was not to make a commentary about the veracity of rape victims so that dialogue is outside the scope of the screenwriter’s intention..

    Mainly, Gone Girl shows the doctrine of equal opportunity depravity. A different kind of movie for people who will enjoy watching a beautiful but evil main character.

  3. Gone Girl, a film adapted by a woman from a book written by a woman who was smart enough to monetarily stimulate an untapped demographic of obtuse misogynists with profoundly exaggerated delusions of persecution, and women who hold opinions against their own self interest, with the utilization of a profoundly unrealistic one-dimensional villain completely reverse-engineered to fit the awkward structure of a plot gimmick so absurd it has absolutely no business pretending to be a serious sociological examination.

    • I for one disagree. I think that Gone Girl works as a profound sociological examination on contemporary media as it demonstrates the fascination news-consumers have with violence, and the way that such instances of violence in the form of biased media publications and news stories can become sensationalized, especially in the case of violence against women, as the author often demonstrates here.

  4. Amy is a deep and complex character.

    • I disagree but only because I don’t think the movie did a good job of making Amy as complex as she was in the book. I felt no real attachment to her. I would never have attached to her the label of representative. She’s clearly exceptionally disturbed not “typically disturbed” as the comments by these men would suggest. One of the things I noticed when reading the book afterwards was how much more I understood why Amy was so attractive. I understood why they were marriedmore and it made the turns punch that much harder. It made a lot of things less confusing.

      • anonymous

        You lie, wolfkin. Just because Amy isn’t a really good person, it doesn’t mean that she’s all bad. In fact, she falls in the gray area.

        • I speak the truth. I read the book AND watched the movie. I’m not sure you’ve done either at this point.

  5. Luke Stephenson

    These kinds of articles are often necessary to bridge the dissonance between hype and substance, given how viewers only ever see what they want to see, and not what they are meant to see.

  6. That Rosamund Pike is a smashing bit of crumpet.

  7. Jenette

    I saw it last night, I enjoyed it, there are some interesting twists & a fair bit of criticism of the American media….the actings very good…..

  8. It is always a nice change when in a novel a strong, wilful woman is presented who upsets stereotypical “bad active man/good passive girl” narratives of identity and gender politics.

  9. Clement

    Amy is in a lot of ways very similar to Tom Ripley. He’s a dead-eyed psycho.

  10. Finding out that Amy Dunne is a psycho is the first time I’ve actually wanted to read this book, the plot’s been spoiled but still. And for the record, women are capable of just as many horrible things as men are, isn’t it anti-feminist to say otherwise? I’ll probably get censored for that though, I’ve disturbed the hive-mind! I’m a woman by the way.

  11. I thought the book was mediocre, though definitely a page-turner. It’s one of those pieces where either you read the book or you see the film but life is probably too short to need to do both.

  12. Joe Baines

    All people can be good and bad; women are not the sainted version of humanity – just as with men there are those (the great majority) who are good and loving, there are also those who are evil, threatening and manipulating.

  13. Amy is an evil woman.

    • anonymous

      Incompletely. There are other characters in Gone Girl who are just as bad as her.

  14. Of course women can be just as evil, manipulative, and crazy as any other gender. However, as the author argues, the problem arises when (usually men, but I’ve seen other genders argue this as well,) assume that Amy’s actions are indicative of everyone of her gender. She doesn’t get to be an individual person acting on her own, screwed-up motives; she’s suddenly a representative for every woman (or at least every woman that these individuals claim to have interacted with), and therefore all women have the potential to become as unhinged as Amy. Obviously this is not true, but honestly the root of this issue links to the matter of representation. There aren’t enough movies that include a wide variety of diverse, multi-faceted women; instead, they’re reduced to one, all-encompassing label: the bitch, the virgin, the slut, etc.. Until there is adequate representation of all types of nuanced women in the media, there are going to be individuals that interpret ‘one’ as a stand-in for ‘all.’

  15. I think if you can’t identify the villian in this movie or realize that she was indeed a psychotic bitch, you are probably due for a risk assessment yourself.

    • Arazoo Ferozan

      Asif, I think it is important that we are respectful of other people’s opinion. We are all professionals and ethical people in this network and must respect each other. There are many ways to show your agreement and disagreement with a topic than insulting the author who has worked really hard to put this piece together or the people who take the time to read and present their own thought.

  16. My girlfriend loved both the book and the film, I thought it, the film, ridiculous. Neither of us thought it had any serious point to make other than a by the numbers dig at American media/celebrity culture.

  17. Jacque Venus Tobias

    Thank you for bringing up a different perspective to this work.

  18. Love this piece. Both the novel and the film reveal a lot in how respective individuals react to the story. I know many men (and unfortunately some women) who had reactions similar to what the author describes. However, I also know men and women who view Amy as the hero of the story…

  19. Arazoo Ferozan

    A wonderful take on the film and audience’s perception of a topic that clearly shows gender disparity. I have recently listened to a segment on CBC radio that discussed normalization of violence against women. It is the horror and gore of violence that shocks and attracts the audience, rather than understanding the emotions of women themselves. Good work.

  20. This is a great perspective on how viewers have misinterpreted this film! I watched it for the first time while I was just beginning to date my boyfriend, and even though I knew this movie hugely inflates what any realistic individual would do, I (half-seriously!) joked to my friends that I didn’t want Jon to see it yet, otherwise he may project some aspects of the film, such as Amy’s ideas on “cool girls,” on our own budding relationship! And this is due to how many actual, true-to-life points are made on relationships throughout this film; Amy and Nick are relatable to an extent. While everyone is entitled to their opinion, though, it certainly does say a lot about society in how people react to the sensitive areas in this film.

  21. Adam

    I read an interview with the author where it stated that the reason she wrote Amy the way she did was to prove that women were not “precious sunflowers” that needed to be protected, and could be just as vicious as men. When comments started coming in stating that she “destroyed feminism” or whatever, she was concerned at first but quickly brushed it off as ridiculous. While it is certainly true that some men have taken the film the wrong way, the same can be said for women as well. When it comes to Gone Girl, really nobody comes out unscathed.

  22. Perfectly articulated – it’s upsetting to think that anyone might take a work of fiction to validate their misogynistic opinions. Beyond that, it is careless for anyone to disregard the unique and meticulously crafted circumstances that made Amy into what she was, and to use the end result of all that development as a brush with which to paint all women.

  23. I think your article is spot on. Gone Girl is not a movie about gender dynamics or violence against women. It is also not about scaring men by making them think of the levels of revenge women can exact. It’s about two dysfunctional, emotionally disturbed, and morally ambiguous individuals who are actually caught up in a strange folie a deux. It takes us into the truth that within our psyches, especially our unconscious mind, there are a lot of dark desires, convoluted strategies, and traumas that cathect into some pretty strange and self-destructive behaviour. To me, Gone Girl is about unrecognized mental illness and is also a mirror of how our society perverts marriage to the point where dark psyche-driven agendas on the part of both husband and wife are not recognized.

  24. With any minority or oppressed/post-oppressed group, the instinct of the majority is to erroneously bring every member of that group under the representation of one terrible example of it. So some stupid men are stupid enough to believe that Amy’s actions in this film must, of course, be representative of many or even all women everywhere. It’s the same process as people believing that the actions of some extremist terrorist reflect the views and values of ordinary Muslims who live ordinary lives. By grouping the entire section of society, be it women, Muslims or any other, by the actions of one or a small group of its number, the majority is able to remove agency from the oppressed group, tar every member of it with the same brush, and treat it as one homogenous block.

  25. I completely agree. The couple is a hyperbolic representation of a couple’s married life.

  26. This is an interesting commentary. It’s almost funny to me that anyone could take the extreme depravity and cunning of Amy’s character as some sort of “example” of how woman are, or that they could see Nick as simply a victim in all of this, yet at the same time, am I really surprised? Gillian Flynn is a master of writing female characters quite outside the norm, which is why I adore her books. Gone Girl is actually my least favourite of her novels. They don’t ask you to relate to our love these women, but they do let us explore a side of female character, darkness, strength (however you want to view it) that is so rarely seen in pop culture representations.

  27. What I appreciate most about this article is not only how it deals with the issue of desensitization concerning violence against women, but how it suggests how audiences are so desensitized that they begin to ‘blame the victim’. This whole notion of women, or more specifically ex-girlfriends, being so temperamental to the point of inflicting self-harm and lying about being raped is unfortunately a common issue today. Whether the rape is real or not, victims of rape will always be questioned or doubted. By having this broader issue being portrayed in a movie through the character of Amy Dunne for the greater audiences, it is easy for Amy to become a token example of what women can be capable of. However, as Kathleen reflects, the movie is not about Amy representing all women, it is only a movie. The story, whether as a novel or as a movie, is entirely fictional and the reaction by the audience use it as ‘proof’ to categorize women and give them the description of ‘crazy’ is not what the author or director intended. It is also an important note to make that their is no intended villain or protagonist but rather a chronological story of two people who meet, fall in love and soon realize that their love was not what they expected. Both of their actions and reactions determine the consequences, not just Amy’s and not just of women in general.

  28. I completely agree. You say it perfectly when you explain that this is a hyperbolic representation of dysfunctional relationships. As for the young men who viewed Gone Girl in a very narrow light of their own, they were obviously oblivious to the exaggerated craziness of the characters, using the character of Amy Dunne to say that women, as a gender, are crazy and guilty. This bleak understanding is just as ignorant as saying that it is the character of Nick who drove Amy to her peak of insanity, as a result of his cheating and game playing; therefore the weak and frankly lame understanding would be that women are only crazy as a result of men. Either way, without the openness to interpret beyond biased views, the sanity of women is doubted, or in simpler words this is a result of viewers who lack the ability to interpret beyond what they are willing to understand.

  29. I have to admit that I was pretty horrified when I watched the film as I did not think society needed to hear the story of a women lying about being raped. I was further horrified (but not surprised) by the reaction of the public. I think that if the film wanted truly wanted to make a statement about the media, it would have been about a women who is raped and isn`t believed, as we all know is more frequently the case. Although I understand it was not the films intention, I do think that a writer must consider her audience and this reaction was not an unpredictable one.

  30. Honestly I think that the sexist responses to the movie just shows how sexist people still are and that there is an undertone of men fearing feminine power. They would rather label a woman as a liar rather than admit to the male dominated problems that are still prevalent.

  31. Good points of consideration. The film and its source material absolutely play on the societally ingrained notion of violent misogyny, particularly in terms of the “missing female” typically being tied to the husband as a primary suspect. In the film, Amy exacts her revenge on Nick by manoeuvring through these unfortunately archetypical situations and using them to her utmost advantage.

  32. I enjoyed reading your article and found your take on the movie to be very interesting!

  33. Great flick…I would hope that a majority of people would see this as a dark yet fascinating “who dunit” and appreciate the groundbreaking and brilliant performance by Pike rather that read a lot of inconsequential BS into it as it appears the author of this article has…😳

  34. ismael676

    Having read the book, I actually thought that both the movie and book bring a somewhat of a feminist perspective. The book is much clearer in its feminist approach, but my argument is that the ultimate representation of equality in a story only succeeds when also the “evil” characters can be women. Isn’t that the ultimate test for equality, when women can be as vicious, violent, and evil as men? Of course, as you point out, some men will see this as proof that women are crazy, but I think is just the opposite. Or, at the very least, it proves that some women can be as crazy as some men. You know, equality.

    However, evidence points that men are in fact more violent than women, but the story, I think, was making a point and not mirroring reality.

  35. I think the movie did an excellent job in showing how ugly and hurtful a broken relationship is, not only on the two but anyone else that gets involved. Also, these two beautiful and successful people stopped being who they were and became Nick and Amy. One being. They stopped growing and being individual which ultimately is unhealthy. Now, the movie being a thriller took these principals to an extreme, and I agree that not everyone in the audience understood the complexity of this aesthetically beautiful film with clever uses of narration. On the other hand, I disagree with the writers using rape as a front. Rape is never funny, beneficial, or a means to an end, but that does not mean every woman will lie about being sexually assaulted or is crazy. Jumping to that conclusion is simply ignorant.

  36. After having read the book, I was a little disappointed with the movie. Even though Fincher stayed faithful to Flynn’s narrative, we don’t get as good of an idea about the complexity of the characters as we do in the book. The fact that the book is written in the first person on a standpoint of both the main characters, in Nick and Amy, allows the reader to really understand what’s going on in their heads and the reasons for their behaviours.

    In regards to this article, I believe the comments in question are caused by viewers taking things out of proportion. We have to understand that viewers appreciate uncommon characters, a little psycho to a certain extent, and we shouldn’t generalize and think that consequently all woman are Amy.

  37. It is interesting to read this article, because I was not aware of the media backlash pertaining to men making negative connotations to Amy and not seeing, on the flip side, the more hidden insanity of Nick’s character. I do, however, remember having debates with my one friend about the fact that, yes, Amy did act very irrationally and in a crazy manner. However, Nick was also at fault and my friend had to at least recognize that there was insanity being emoted on both sides.

  38. I certainly agree that anyone taking Amy as “proof that all women are crazy” has got it wrong. Most films depicting this type of intense manipulation feature men at the reigns, and the reaction is never an equivalent “all men are crazy”.

    This disappointing reaction aside, I do think that Amy’s character is clearly a much more sick and twisted individual than Nick, who is largely victimized. Amy’s actions in the film are fairly indefensible, and appealing to Nick’s wrongdoings in order to make him seem like less of a victim doesn’t really help your point that the generalization of all women as akin to Amy is problematic.

    We must remember that the internet brings out both the worst in people, and the worst people, and that the loudest voices are not always representative of everyone’s thoughts. Hopefully plenty of people saw the film as an instance of feminist progress wherein a female character was depicted as being just as dangerous and insane as a typical male villain, which I believe it was.

    • anonymous

      You know? There are other characters in Gone Girl who are no better than her.

  39. It’s baffling to me that someone can’t make a movie about an unstable individual without those person’s actions being generalized to an entire gender. The whole point of this movie was about the smoke and mirrors of the relationship, not about how “bitches be crazy and will do anything to get people on their side”.

  40. tracyrwdeboer

    Fantastic article.

  41. I completely agree with this article.
    Even though the interpretation of this scheme is a double-edged sword based on the amount of freedom provided by the cinematic approach, it would be so reductive to perceive the intention of the filmmaker as a one-way and Manichean perspective on human relationships and marital problems.
    The strength of this movie can be found in the situational turnarounds rather than in her ability to prove ber craziness. No other male protagonist will be shamed for being a psycho based on his gender.

  42. I felt this film poked fun at feminism

  43. Very interesting, when I watched the film I thought it was a movie exploring psychopathy, similar to silence of the lambs with the character Hannibal.

  44. JLaurenceCohen

    Gone Girl has two protagonists–Nick and Amy. By the end of the novel, we get both of their perspectives. Neither is blameless, but Amy is more violent and more manipulative than Nick. In fact, Nick’s biggest transformation in the novel is to become more suspicious, more conniving, more detail-oriented–more like Amy. Despite his many character flaws, by the end of the novel Nick is a more sympathetic character than Amy.

  45. Had no idea what this movie was going into it and WOW, complete shock to me and my friends. Really interesting although after the movie we were all a bit too stunned to talk about it.

  46. This article is spot on! Both Nick and Amy are desperate people who do desperate things and make choices, for better or for worse. Neither one of them are representative of their gender, nor should they be considered the end-all-be-all example for every reason you said!

  47. I feel bad for my initial reaction to your title, I was ready whole-heartedly to disagree, “everyone’s interpretation is valid!” I tend to over simplify art in my mind that it’s entirely the viewers’ control for interpretation but it’s an added complexity I hadn’t thought about that some interpretations are just wrong. And I feel entirely comfortable agreeing with you that “bitches be crazy” is absolutely not the point. That’s also just boring. When you hear people rant and rave about a movie wouldn’t you expect a little bit more than validation that your gender is the rational one? And how would you reconcile that with how hard Amy dupes Nick? Amy is clearly the planner and logical one.

  48. moonyuet

    If you watch the movie, you would find one thought has been centered : “Amazing Amy”. This phrase has made two ambiguous points.
    On one hand, it demonstrates how great our female lead is. She is super intelligent that she can control anything like imitating to be a victim. On the other hand, it tells how pathetic she is. She loses her jobs while her husband loses his job. His husband started his own business while she was a housewife. It’s like a scene of 1950s America. Tracing back to 1950s, many women were mobilized to be caregivers at home, while men were breadwinners. Most of the women were frustrated and unhappy. They suffered from “the problem has no name”(if you read Betty Friedan you would know). They don’t have any self-identities and all they need to do is to take care of their families. The movie pinpoints how the problem (along with Nick’s cheating) led to Amy’s mental breakdown, knowing that Nick’s action makes her feel betrayed and insecure.
    Thie movie is indeed a very deep thought of feminism- it tells the problem of which women can understand and men can barely realize.

  49. danielle577

    Wow, this is an extremely powerful article that I cannot believe I have skimmed over and failed to read until now. Yes, you are absolutely correct. So many people used this movie as a platform and ode to women being capable of anything. I, too, had my FB page filled with men writing posts stating, “Just saw a movie starring my ex,” “Wow, women will go to extremes,” “See, you really can’t believe when a women cries rape,” etc. It was sickening, and when reading your article, I am reminded of all of these horrible posts. Why did so many take this thriller as truth? How come what was on the page, translated to the screen, the true depiction of women? Why were all women grouped together as the ultimate “Amy?” She’s a sociopath, plain and simple. Does woman equate sociopath? Last time I checked, the DSM has yet to deem the term as a gender discerning term, in fact, more men are afflicted with this disorder than women.

  50. Interesting article. I’ll be honest and say that I wasn’t a big fan of Gone Girl when I saw it in the theaters mainly because I didn’t really like the ending, but I do agree with the themes that you mentioned in your article. I also don’t think that people should just assume that just because Amy lied about a lot of these things in this film that that is what all women do. I mean let’s face it, Nick wasn’t an angel himself, but of course because he didn’t devise a crazy plan to fake his own death people don’t look at all the things he did.

  51. This was incredibly well articulated, and is a very important issue that should be addressed. I loved Gone Girl, for many of the reasons you pointed out – it’s story was wildly surprising, the acting completely represented the instability of the two characters, and the film was shot beautifully. It is a shame that such a film is slightly dampened by the reaction of a few individuals, but I think it is fantastic that you drew attention to it and reminded us all this film (and films in general) do not represent all people. Not all women can be compared to one character, just like all men cannot be compared either. It is also interesting to note that no men were compared to the character of Nick, despite the fact that he agreed to remain with Amy, despite all that had happened. I think you did a great job of highlighting that both of these people are exaggerated versions of “normal” people, and do not represent the audience as a whole. I personally loved this film, but regardless of your opinions on the film itself, it is unfair to stereotype all women as crazy or psychotic. I really enjoyed reading your article and all of your thoughts on such an important issue, so thank you for drawing attention to it.

  52. This article makes a number of important points about how Gone Girl was received by audiences versus what its filmmakers’ intentions were. Chief among these is the description of how the filmmakers do not try to normalize Amy’s behavior–she IS a calculating, manipulative, and deplorable character, but the film itself never seems to suggest that being so is indicative of a greater pattern in women’s behavior.

    It’s interesting to consider how Gone Girl compares against The Girl on the Train, in which [SPOILERS AHEAD] a man is the most violent and deranged person amongst a group of highly unlikable and complex characters. A particularly interesting difference between the two stories is how desexualized Amy is in Gone Girl and how hypersexual Tom is in TGOTT–in fact, it’s Tom’s lust and possessiveness/intense control issues that causes him to act violently. I would be curious to hear your thoughts on how these representations conform to or contradict assumed gender norms, and whether or not you think one depiction is more damaging than the other.

  53. I have not heard this outrageous generalization yet, but I can see why joking and post-discussions of the movie can be misleading. The character may represent an extreme case of how a person may deal with issues, but many people may not react this way in many cases.

    This movie was actually a great topic to facilitate discussion about the movie, its characters, moral dilemma, and ways to deal with problems.

    I thought Ben Affleck’s and Rosamund Pike’s characters were incredibly manipulative and deserve each other to the certain extent. The man cheated and was unknowingly caught by his wife, who decided to do something about it (in a very extreme way) and demanded consequences of her husband’s infidelity. The husband also pushed back once he realized he was being framed for murder by his wife. The wife’s plan did not so well either, after being robbed. She saw her husband’s regret and public manipulation and decided to change her suicide plan to ultimately frame her husband. In the end, this movie evokes so many plot twists, ethical issues, and human reactions in a hypothetical extremity that should not be automatically generalized to real people.

  54. The crimes of Amy and Nick Dunne are in no way, shape or form comparable. Nick was guilty of what many, many men are guilty of across America – cheating on his wife. It we really want to fill out his crime log as saturated as we can make it, we can say that he stole from his wife until she was practically broke, and there was probably emotional and psychological abuse… all the physical abuse was made up by Amy.

    What were Amy’s crimes? She framed her husband for murder, framed her ex of stalking, rape, and then killed him in cold blood. She got another ex convicted of a sex crime and put on a sex offender’s list. It’s very clear that Amy is the antagonist in this film. Nick is not a saint by any means but he certainly is not the bad guy in the film. Their crimes are not comparable in the slightest… Nick is a terrible husband and son, but he is not psychopathic like Amy clearly is.

    Why you would want to have these two share the spotlight as equally guilty is beyond me. By the end of the movie, Amy has manipulated everyone around her in order to get what she wants.. and then forces her husband to stay with her against his will by getting pregnant and forcing him to stay. And you want to sit her and tell me that Nick is equally a bad guy because he was fucking one of his students at his university? Are you kidding me?

  55. Interesting observation, the sentiment is definitely present on social media, glad to see someone address it.

  56. Oh yeah, totally. If you’re not convinced that they’re just as mad as each other by the end of the film, you’ve most likely missed the point entirely.

  57. Onur Görkem Gürkan

    I disagree. I think varying responses from men and women, and I’ll go with the chilchés, contain the “women are insane” thread and “the irresponsibility and unfaithfulness of men are ought to and deserve to be outmatched with a retaliation where the sky is the limit” thought train.

    To see the author make a both “he and she” reference as if those two spectrums of misbehavior were on par made my blood run cold.

    Women, quoting Jordan Peterson, have no outright way of handling the aggression that they feel towards men or other women. Gossip, innuendo, and character assassination are common tools that replace the head smashing of Nick Dunno in the movie. I admit we can draw several insights and conclusions from the movie, but in the end we cannot deny the display of different paths the characters choose to misbehave and the fact the female character got too entangled in her own lack of expression for her anger to the degree where she needs to be institutionalized for the rest of her life, while the male was all but too ordinary to be signifying anything. That ordinariness only came to a halt at the end of the movie where we saw Nick Dunno considering to return to Amy not only in pretense but with sincere intention. That is the only enigma for the male character in the movie, and while I have some speculations on this, I would like to hear what others thought of it.

  58. Did you just consider cheating the same as framing someone for murder and send him to death !?!?

  59. Wonderful article. You make solid points and it’s sad that our society has made it this far that men will actually place all women in a box labelled ‘Any Dunne’. I rewatched Gone Girl last night and I was really conflicted by both characters – it’s hard to tell who the bad person in the marriage is, as they are both messed up. It’s kinda like the end of Phantom Thread where his wife poisons him and he finds that challenging and amusing – they are just crazy people in a marriage that thrives on pushing each others buttons. Gone Girl is about the challenges of marriage and how two horrible people try and make their bad marriage work. It’s not about crazy women representing all women and even when I watched this second time I wondered if people would take Amy’s false rape claims and twist it around to ‘women are liars’ so I’m doing research to read up on this theory. Thanks for this article and your opinion.

Leave a Reply