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I wish your conversation about the film were made available in a public digest somewhere, as it has made my estimation of the film rise. (Feel free to post it at Filmwell if so inclined.)

Twitter conversations are a nightmare to read in digest form, but I'd be very interested in doing a round-robin post if others are so inclined.

 

Me too.

Me three.

"Anyway, in general I love tragic artists, especially classical ones."

"Even the forms for expressing truth can be multiform, and this is indeed necessary for the transmission of the Gospel in its timeless meaning."

- Pope Francis, August 2013 interview with Antonio Spadaro

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Meanwhile, as this fascinating discussion develops, my mention of Gone Girl over at The Rabbit Room has brought the Heroes of Condemnation out, declaring the film "vile" and "good for nobody." (Sigh.)

 

I am so thankful for A&F.

P.S.  I COULD BE WRONG.

 

Takin' 'er easy for all you sinners at lookingcloser.org. Also abiding at Facebook and Twitter.

 

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I had told my wife (who wasn't able to see the film) that although there were some rotten people the only scene that was particularily graphic was the slashing scene, but that it was a doozy.

 

Yet, right now I'm finding it (and what led up to it) to be the most potentially intruiging scene thematically, and this from a Christian perspective.

Edited by Attica
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Here's my attempt to flesh out my points from earlier today.

 

Since I think this is incredibly relevant, I'm going to start with it:

 

 

"What if your hinges all are rusting?

What if, in fact, you're just disgusting?

Razzle-dazzle 'em,

And they'll never catch wise."

 

That is exactly the game which Amy and eventually Nick play with disturbing expertise, and Fincher uses that both as his source of comedy and as the source of his Hitchcock tribute and references.

 

As several others have noted Amy is clearly inspired from the Hitchcock blonde, and the first part of the movie portrays her no differently: trapped in a dark world where she is manipulated and oppressed by her parents, abusive obsessed men, and her boring routine role as a housewife.  Then Fincher turns the tables on those perceptions suggesting she's the conniving monster while Nick is the innocent victim.  Then the third act turns the tables again as Nick becomes increasingly willing to play along with her and keep up appearance of the loving, happily married couple.  That appearance has literally saved Nick's life, and Amy loves maintaining her amazing image for the camera.  Please tell me I was not the only person who was thinking of "We Both Reached for the Gun" during the final interview at their home.

 

Going back to the first turning point: the beginning of the second act when Amy is explaining her plan and rationale, which is nearly identical to the rationales of the murderesses in "The Cell Block Tango," that is when Amy's character arc begins to be an inversion of Judy in Vertigo (an idea Ryan H. mentioned on Twitter).  There is some very dark humor in that scene ("befriend a local idiot," "fake a pregnancy," "bleed a lot"), as well as the meticulous plotting of the perfect murder (not unlike Bruno in Strangers on a Train).

 

When we reach the third act, the film escalates the facade maintaining, completing the integration of Hitchcock tribute and very dark satire.  Keeping up fake appearances is always a comic subject, especially when characters' attempts become outrageous, and even more so when it takes place in a world as dark as Gone Girl's.  As I've said before, that darkness is based in an Hitchcockian world: alluring victimized blonde, femme fatale, terrible mother, acceptance of an overly simple solution, and a wrongly accused man (not innocent or good guy, just wrongly accused - even Norman Bates gets wrongly accused).  Fincher takes all those elements and twists them on the viewer.  In doing so, he exposes the shallowness of a culture's obsession with being cool, and that shallowness is so foolish that is darkly comic.

 

The more I think about Gone Girl, the more I think that the most appropriate and succinct description is Chicago as if it were directed by Alfred Hitchcock.  And honestly, what's there to dislike about that?

 

At this point the only things I wish had been different: the final shot - I wish Fincher cut to the credits rights after the interview, Neil Patrick Harris, while passable, was noticeably weaker than the rest of the cast, and Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross still can't write a decent score, although this is definitely a step up from their other work. Regardless, I really want to see this again.

Edited by Evan C

"Anyway, in general I love tragic artists, especially classical ones."

"Even the forms for expressing truth can be multiform, and this is indeed necessary for the transmission of the Gospel in its timeless meaning."

- Pope Francis, August 2013 interview with Antonio Spadaro

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Another thought as to the idea of empowerment in the "Desi scenes."  The film handled her later return (covered in blood) from the angle of a distressed woman who has struggled to make her way home to safety.  But if we were to see it from her perspective, the drive all the way home, in that state, was an integral part of the plan for manipulation.  She had felt empowered to reach a new level in that now she was confidently lying and manipulating while knowing that there others, at the very least Nick, who knew what she was up to and what she had done.  Then she would have later surely known that the detective was on to her, what with that sly look she gave.  Pretty gutsy, and insane.  How had that drive home covered in Desi's blood (of the sacrifice?) empowered her, according to her twisted way of thinking.  

 

I mean she would have thought that she could just have easily have said that she washed the blood off before, or during, the long trip home because it horrified her.  That would have been considered just as acceptable, if not even more probable.

 

 

Another thought as to the idea of fake worldbuilding.  Amy had seen an early life of this with the fake world that had been built in the books based on her life.  A life that was built which was in many ways better than her reality, but also was something that was stealing form her and making her reality less than.  She was "raised" to think that the real world was inferior.  Her parents had also lived in a fake world and were fake people, which Nick had seen through.  The picture that was so condeming of him beside Amy's poster during the press meeting actually came about through his being real, he had even talked about "just being myself" in relation to ideas from his sister, at one point.  This was contrasted with Amy's parents who were completely being fake for the camera.  He might have had places of fake worldbuilding, but at that point he understood and endorsed the idea of just being himself.  How much at the end of the film?

 

Even Nick's father was living in a fake world created by his own mind, what with what was probably demensia.

 

Near the end we see the shot of Nick in front of the mirror fighting against the lies, trying not to get sucked into the delusion, but we know that he's failing.  

 

So.  How it turns out is that Amy's parents are going to go through life buying into the lie and not being troubled by how awful Amy really is.  Nick and Amy are going to live in some sort of netherworld of half being tortured by the lie, half believing it.  Nick's father will have no understanding of the situation.

 

This leaves us with the sister, being the person that has been nagging at me in this regard.  She was the only really good person in the family (at least that has her mental faculties - in relation to Nick's father - and is living - in relation to Nick's mother) and is the one who is living in the "real world."  She saw through Amy from the start and as well picked up on the "cheating" when they were trying to hide it from her in her home.  There was no fooling her.  She completely understood the gravity of the situation and the sheer stupidity of what Nick was doing.  

 

She was the one who was living in reality and not building her own separate world, and she was the one who understood the horror of Nick becoming entangled with Amy again after all that had happened, as can be observed in her conversation with Nick about it.  In other words, the one really good person in the family is going to be the only one who has the full negative impact of the horror and sheer awfulness of the situation, all because she was "normal" enough to not live in a delusion, and to live true.

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The picture that was so condeming of him beside Amy's poster during the press meeting actually came about through his being real, he had even talked about "just being myself" in relation to ideas from his sister, at one point.  This was contrasted with Amy's parents who were completely being fake for the camera.  He might have had places of fake worldbuilding, but at that point he understood and endorsed the idea of just being himself.

Absolutely. When Amy watches the press conference video, she mutters, "Give me that stupid Nick Dunne smile...there it is," as if she knew Nick would be honest and be himself, and she was going to use that to trap him.

"Anyway, in general I love tragic artists, especially classical ones."

"Even the forms for expressing truth can be multiform, and this is indeed necessary for the transmission of the Gospel in its timeless meaning."

- Pope Francis, August 2013 interview with Antonio Spadaro

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:and a wrongly accused man (not innocent or good guy, just wrongly accused - even Norman Bates gets wrongly accused).

 

 

Definitely.  Hitchcock really is the key to this film.  It is the twisting of the twisting found in Hitchcock's films.

Edited by Attica
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It is the twisting of the twisting found in Hitchcock's films.

Ooh, I like that a lot.

"Anyway, in general I love tragic artists, especially classical ones."

"Even the forms for expressing truth can be multiform, and this is indeed necessary for the transmission of the Gospel in its timeless meaning."

- Pope Francis, August 2013 interview with Antonio Spadaro

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"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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The middle act loses me with the arrival of Neal Patrick Harris. Nothing about his character works for me.

 

Oh yes. It was odd casting. Now having seen NPH in full, I can never watching Doogie Howser again.

 

A weak point for me, as well.  Although I kept thinking that many of the women that NHP's Barney Stinson character dated (or, more to the point, used) from How I Met Your Mother, might have appreciated this outcome.

 

 

 

And Tyler Perry was great.

 

True! And that was the film's biggest surprise.

 

 

This was an eye-opener.  This has me hoping that more directors find interesting uses for Tyler Perry in the future (other than Perry directing himself).

 

 

I just read over the Film Comment interview with Fincher regarding this film, and they talk about VERTIGO and MARNIE, which I think are apropos touchpoints.

 

Vertigo I caught; Marnie not so much. But it makes sense. This movie is really about the revenge of the Hitchcock Blonde......

 

.....

Pike's character is obviously Judy/Madeleine/Marnie--complete with an unsatisfactory mother!--but she's also Grace Kelly from

Rear Window, with the ending of Gone Girl taking a darkly comic turn on the ending of the Hitchcock film. At a push, I might even want to connect Pike's sunglasses with those of Roger Thornhill in North by Northwest.

 

There's more going on here than the Hitchcock resonances, of course, but they're definitely present. 

 

 

The Hitchcock Blonde from Vertigo I kept thinking of was Midge, especially in the middle part of the film.

 

With all the talk of Hitchcock, and some references to Patricia Highsmith's Tom Ripley, I also wanted to add that Gone Girl has some elements that have cropped up in at least two Martin Scorcese films - Taxi Driver and The King of Comedy.  Those elements being the idea that those committing the horrible crimes end up profiting well from their misdeeds.  The Amazing Amy book signing at the end of Gone Girl (which seems to imply that sales of those books have gone through the roof, pulling both Amy, Nick  and Amy's parents out of any financial messes they were in) is very reminiscent of the unintentional "heroic" praise Travis Bickle receives, and the post-time served success that Rupert Pupkin enjoys.

Formerly Baal_T'shuvah

"Everyone has the right to make an ass out of themselves. You just can't let the world judge you too much." - Maude 
Harold and Maude
 

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Vertigo I caught; Marnie not so much. But it makes sense. This movie is really about the revenge of the Hitchcock Blonde

 

 

 

 

 

 

EDIT: On a somewhat-unrelated note:

 

I've been thinking about the issue of why Amy is so powerless in the middle section of the film--why the two rube characters can take advantage of her so easily--and I think the answer is in her hair. This is a section of the movie where she has explicitly rejected the role of Hitchcock Blonde, and has dyed her hair a mousy brown color. It's also the section where Pike's 

performance betrays the most uncertainty and desperation. She has lost her quasi-mystical power over others precisely because she has rejected the false shape forced upon her by others. It is only once she has been "victimized" by Collings--once she has been forced back into the Hitchcock Blonde role--that she is able to enact the blood sacrifice that returns her power. After that, she dominates the narrative in a way that she didn't even in the first act. So Amy's journey can be charted along a mystical/mythic path. If I were more of a Campbellian, I'd even try to tie it in to the Hero's Journey. 

 

In this, of course, she is the precise opposite of Judy--a character who loses power the more she embraces the false expectations set upon her. Amy embraces those expectations and then uses them to enact her own will-to-power. This is, of course, a form of magic (!)--I'm thinking particularly of some readings of voodoo which argue that it is a method by which the powerless gain power by embracing the only choice left to them--death--and turning that choice back onto their oppressors.

 

 

If you haven't watched Marnie in a while, you should. Or even just the first part, where hair color and femininity and disguise and the assertion/transferal of power are so disturbingly intertwined. And the sequence with the heels . . . 

I only know Gone Girl as a book. I thought it was shallow (and really disliked its view of humanity) but compulsively readable. I also thought it might work better onscreen: one of those novels that are either inherently movie-like or written with a movie in mind. This discussion doesn't quite make me want to reread it (I was genuinely surprised by Christian's comment about Flynn's reputation) but it's very intriguing and convinces me the movie is far, far richer.

Edited by Josie
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  • 1 month later...

 

I wish your conversation about the film were made available in a public digest somewhere, as it has made my estimation of the film rise. (Feel free to post it at Filmwell if so inclined.)

 

Twitter conversations are a nightmare to read in digest form, but I'd be very interested in doing a round-robin post if others are so inclined.

 

And here is the round-robin post on Gone Girl.

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Excellent. 

 

I must say, my initial response to this film was heavily affected by my emotional response, which was tainted by recent Mark Driscoll-related turbulence. 

 

This conversation is helping me gain a more reasonable assessment. I'm going to end up rating it higher at the end of the year than I'd anticipated.

 

Thanks for putting this together, Mike. I really appreciate. And thanks for keeping Filmwell alive. 

P.S.  I COULD BE WRONG.

 

Takin' 'er easy for all you sinners at lookingcloser.org. Also abiding at Facebook and Twitter.

 

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I had nothing to do with it! It magically appeared, as things are wont to do at Filmwell. 

 

Very impressive work, gentleman. It is the most helpful reading of the film I have encountered - and fundamentally changed my perception of it. 

"...the vivid crossing of borders between film and theology may save the film from the banality of cinema and festival business, and it may also save the church from the deep sleep of the habitual and the always known."

(Hans Werner Dannowski)

Filmwell | Twitter

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I think Mike deserves to be thanked--both for providing an internet home for the conversation and for suggesting a digest in the first place. I can't speak for the other authors, but I know that my own ruminations probably would not have been finalized--and certainly not in that manner--if he hadn't said what he did. In all likelihood they would have gone the way of my Captain America 2 rants.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Side note here, but that Rolling Stone story about the gang-rape initiation ritual at one of the University of Virginia's fraternities -- the story that is increasingly looking like a hoax (more on the interviewee's part than the reporter's, but possibly there too) -- has been prompting comparisons to Catfish and Gone Girl lately. As one person recently put it: "In Gone Girl, a smashed glass table is the first sign to Nick Dunne that something is wrong, and also the first thing the cops notice that the crime scene might be a hoax." (In the Rolling Stone story, "Jackie" claimed that she fell down in a dark room and smashed a glass table, and was then raped on the floor by several men. In the dark. On a floor covered in shattered glass. Would men -- even frat boys -- actually risk harm to their anatomy in a dark room with shattered glass on the floor?)

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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At least one member of the first family isn't afraid to go out on a limb in discussing the year's best movies:

 

First lady Michelle Obama was a huge fan of Gillian Flynn's "Gone Girl." But, because she was talking about the book and not the film, she stayed mum on Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike's performances. “I’ve read others [since, but] I read ‘Gone Girl’ a couple summers ago, which is one of my favorites," she said. "The book is much better than the movie.”

"What matters are movies, not awards; experiences, not celebrations; the subjective power of individual critical points of view, not the declamatory compromises of consensus." - Richard Brody, "Godard's Surprise Win Is a Victory for Independent Cinema," The New Yorker

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  • 2 weeks later...
  • 3 weeks later...

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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  • 1 month later...

Late to the game, but I wanted to note a couple things.

First, outstanding dialogue and dissection Nathanael, Ryan and Evan!

Second, Michael called out the disparate elements in the interrogation scene. I think that is a feature, not a flaw. It is Hitchcock tilting the camera angle, keeping everything just slightly off balance. It is toying with perception, not from lack of being able to make a filmmaking decision, but deciding to continue, even at such a late point - a point where the viewer and even the characters expect resolution, to keep things off balance.

It is... what Fincher is all about. From Alien 3, where he threw a monkey wrench in right from the beginning that pissed off fans and viewers, he's subverting, rearranging and confounding expectations.

He's gotten a lot better at it. More subtle. More technical. More encompassing of both the characters and viewers.

It's a masterful scene - because it's grounded in disparate viewpoints and genre coneventions, it teases, but then ultimately refuses to give any hint of resolution or what comes next.

"It's a dangerous business going out your front door." -- J.R.R. Tolkien
"I want to believe in art-induced epiphanies." -- Josie
"I would never be dismissive of pop entertainment; it's much too serious a matter for that." -- NBooth

"If apologetics could prove God, I would lose all faith in Him." -- Josie

"What if--just what if--the very act of storytelling is itself redemptive? What if gathering up the scraps and fragments of a disordered life and binding them between the pages of a book in all of their fragmentary disorder is itself a gambit against that disorder?" -- NBooth

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