I began watching Gone Girl knowing that there was a twist, and truth be told, knowing what that twist was probably going to be. There had been enough media hum about the movie that some of it had seeped into my brain. Being a human in the year 2015 is kind of like that; there are things you just can’t avoid, no matter how little you care about them. Add that to the fact that I tend to watch movies well after everyone else in the world has had their turn with it, and well, you get where I’m going with this. There wasn’t going to be any twist in this movie that I found too shocking. Yet, I did find this movie to be shocking, and for all the wrong reasons, or, more poignantly, for one all-encompassing and mind-boggling reason.
I felt like that woman in the GEICO commercial as she watched the older woman, posting physical pictures to the wall of her house. That’s not how this works; that’s not how any of this works. Almost every character in Gone Girl seemed to react to the events that were happening in such a strange way that I was left wondering why they weren’t all trying to un-friend each other. One character in particular puzzled me beyond belief.
(This is where I’m going to write about stuff that happens in the movie, so, if you don’t want to read about stuff that happens in the movie, well, you know what to do).
Nick Dunne, played by Ben Affleck, may be the strangest character I’ve ever watched in a movie. In fact, I’m willing to bet that he is a person that could not, in any capacity, actually exist. Let’s paint a quick picture of Nick Dunne’s situation: You are in the fifth year of a failed marriage. You are living a lie, cheating on your spouse, and waking each day telling yourself, today is the day I ask for a divorce. You are on your way home to tell your spouse it’s over, when something unexpected occurs. You arrive at your home, the door is open wide, it’s obvious there has been some sort of violent struggle in the house and your spouse is missing. They have possibly been murdered or abducted. You have no idea what has happened, and you are innocent of any wrongdoing. And…. Action.
Regardless of how poorly your marriage was going with this person, would your reaction be to lie to everyone about the truth of your life and show literally no emotion toward the situation for the next week? Well that’s how Ben Affleck’s character decides to deal with the situation. He never sheds a single tear or even gets red in the eye at any point of the movie. In fact, the only motivation he seems to have is to hide any information that might make it look like he could have been the reason why his wife has disappeared.
It’s kind of messed up, but I can plausibly see a world where this guy really doesn’t care that his wife is gone. He’s thinking, good riddance, and his only focus is to make sure he doesn’t get pegged for the crime, but this situation isn’t that simple. Firstly, he doesn’t know what actually happened. No matter how you might feel about the bad relationship you are in, an innocent person would never be so cavalier about an abduction and possible murder. Trust me, I’ve been in a depressing and loveless relationship before. One where your only good times are when you are away from that other person, and you dread having to come home every night. I can understand feeling a certain amount of happiness knowing that weight will no longer be hanging around your neck, but I would never have been okay with the thing that caused the separation being abduction or murder. That’s just, well… insane.
Secondly, if you were innocent, wouldn’t you tell the truth? Not Nick Dunne. From the very beginning of the movie you are left wondering what he knows that he’s not telling us, because the way he acts just doesn’t add up. The fact that, in truth, he’s not hiding any information about his wife just makes the movie so weird, and it makes every action of the character seem bizarre and impossible. His actions are so odd that you begin to wonder if he really did kill his wife, but then you think again and realize that if he did kill his wife, he would be trying it hide it better. It’s truly bizarre. I watched the first half of the movie in the way I might watch a fly trying to leave a house, bouncing repeatedly into a closed window, when an open door was just feet away, only Nick Dunne isn’t a fly.
Before I found out what actually happened to Nick’s wife, I started believing that she must have faked her own death and that her husband was in on it, but somewhat unwillingly. It was the only logical way I could explain his actions. He was emotionally detached from a possible murder/abduction of someone he, at the very least, shared a home with. He was lying about things that someone who was innocent would come clean with immediately. He operated like a guy whose wife was dragging him through a dinner party he didn’t want to attend, trying on fake smiles, and telling fake stories just to pass the hours. All the while, waiting for the whole thing to end so he could get back to his life.
Then the reveal came, and I was just baffled. I was right about Nick’s wife faking her own death, but in truth, she went through painstaking lengths to frame him for her disappearance. It turns out that Amy Dunne is a wack-job of the highest order, a dangerous psychopath who has framed men for unsavory acts in the past, and is herself capable of committing murder. Shocking, right? Well, at this point in the film I’m more shocked with Affleck’s character than the plotline. We now know he’s innocent and didn’t know what was going on, yet nothing the he has done up to this point falls in line with what any rational person would have done. Hell, it doesn’t fall in line with what any irrational person would have done.
The rest of the movie is comprised of Nick Dunne finally realizing his wife is/was/will continue to be a psychopath, and finally telling the world the truth about their not-so-happy life together. The only problem is that he’s made such a ridiculous mess of being innocent that the local authorities are ready to lock him up and throw away the key. Add to that the fact that his nutjob of a wife sees him tell the truth about them on national television and this somehow convinces her that she wants to be back in his life as some sort of fake robot-wife. She proceeds to kill a guy from her past while framing him for the kidnapping, and then returns to Affleck crying and covered in blood, all while cameras a rolling. (Yeah, the movie has kind of jumped the shark at this point).
But now we have the final act of weirdness to endure. One more completely illogical move in the life of the impossible Nick Dunne. Here’s a question, what would you do if a spouse who had just framed you for their murder returned to you, in an obviously psychopathic way, with some cockamamie story that you weren’t buying for one second? Wouldn’t you want to get away from this person as fast as you could, for say, oh, I don’t know… forever? Not Nick Dunne. He decides to stay at home, married to a monster, pretending everything is okay, even though at no point does he fall back in love with this woman, or believe any of her crazy, psycho bullshit.
I just wanted to smack the man. That’s not how this works; that’s not how any of this works.
I was reminded of the old adage: Who is more foolish? The fool, or the fool that follows them? But the parallel to this situation would be: Who is more insane? The psychopath, or the psychopath who follows them?
I guess the real shocking twist of Gone Girl is that you assume you’re watching a movie about a mysterious crime, and in the end, you’ve just been watching a love story for crazy people. Cue up the Billy Joel. “You may be right, I may be crazy, but it just may be a lunatic you’re looking for.”