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Ben Afleck as Amy's disenchanted husband

Before going to see Gone Girl with my daughter, Shiona,  watched David Fincher’s Se7en and Zodiac, both of which she was totally gripped by. She also read and watched a few reviews, which were all very positive, so she had high hopes of the film.

Half way through and she was hooked, she said. Leaving the cinema, she wasn’t in the mood to discuss it with anyone. She was a little surprised I wasn’t quite so taken by it but as we talked she began to accept that maybe she’d been seduced by Fincher’s dark melodramatic style and not the sense of his film… What follows below is her analysis of the film after I’d stirred things up a bit and got her asking more questions than she’d thought to ask on leaving the cinema…

Shiona writes…

Gone Girl is based on Gillian Flynn’s “best-selling” novel of the same name. While the set up is intriguing enough – husband, Nick, (Ben Affleck) comes home to find his beautiful wife, Amy (Rosamund Pike) is missing and everything is beginning to look like he murdered her – there are a lot of gaping holes in the story that makes the whole film unbelievable.

A not so perfect crime

Amy fakes her own death and disappears, waiting for the day her husband will be found guilty for her murder. But while her preparations for the fake crime are clever, it would appear she didn’t have much thought to her life after her disappearance:

  • She hasn’t acquired any new legal ID, which means if she’s pulled over by the authorities she’ll be identified as the ‘missing Amy’.
  • She can’t use debit or credit card and has only taken $2-3000 to live on – after that she’s going to have to earn money under the table, not so easy these days.
  • She booked into a motel next to trailer trash and stupidly hit her face with a hammer to look like an abused woman, presumably hoping for sympathy, but only succeeded in making herself look like a woman on the run who would never seek police help if she ever was to be robbed.

The stalker boyfriend

When she is robbed, Amy drives off in her secondhand car and winds up by chance, or by design, we’re never sure which, in a bar where she runs into her stalker ex-boyfriend, Desi (Neil Patrick Harris) after 10 long years. The moment he sees her, he’s besotted all over again, as if no time had elapsed. He sees her disappearance as the perfect opportunity to have her all to himself and never lose her again.

This is where it really becomes ridiculous: how could she possibly know after all these years that this ex would be in this bar, on this night and still want her – and be single? How could she be so sure he wouldn’t turn her in? How can she possibly predict that he wouldn’t then introduce her to people from her past who would also be likely to call the police to say they’d seen the missing Amy? She’s been very clever up to this point, so this inconsistency is hard to believe.

So the creepy ex offers to keep her hidden away… and she starts plotting another murder, this time a real one. Really?! The guy has cameras everywhere inside the house AND watching the house, 24/7! In spite of this she goes about preparing to cut Desi’s throat with a box cutter which he rather carelesslly leaves lying around.

Even supposing the cameras missed her hunting about the kitchen for a boxcutter, they wouldn’t have missed the time she entererd the house, and the manner in which she entered it – willingly. Knowing that these cameras will have clocked and daed her arrival at this man’s house, how could she possibly be so stupid to invent a story later on that she’d been abducted by Desi on the date she ‘disappeared’? She arrived at his house more than two weeks after her disappearance.

Media frenzy turns cops into monkeys

Smart forensics doesn't last long

It seems the media are in such a frenzy of relief when amy reappears that the police completely lose any interest in scrutinising her story. Not only do they swallow the self-defence story she sobs up, they fail to takea fresh look at the original crime scene and evidence.

For instance, the pool of blood on the kitchen floor revealed by luminol. That’s a lot of blood and would likely have been caused by a serious wound. The police believe they have found the weapon that was used on her in causing such blood loss, but then do absolutely nothing to check her over to see where she was struck. No one even asks her the question, Where were you hit? If it was a head wound, where was the gash in her head?

Besides, according to her she was never hurt by Desi when he kidnapped her – he just took her. So why the huge pool of blood on the kicthen floor? Answer: She put it there to fake her own disappearance; there was no kidnapping, it’s all a lie! Having been pretty shrewd at the beginning of the film, the police have turned into a bunch of monkeys.

It’s hard to believe that media’s thirsty for sensationalist outcomes would have the power to completely shut down detective Rhonda Boney’s (Kim Dickens) investigation – but it does. Why? Because this story was written to show a cunning female criminal can get away with murder. But it’s just not believable.

Amazingly not one eye witness come forward to give testimony relating to Amy’s disappearance. We are supposed to believe that cutting your hair a bit shorter and putting on some specs makes you invisible, even though your face is plastered all over the news. What about the motel receptionist, the other people staying at the motel, the local shops, the gas station where she would have filled up her car…?

Amy’s psychological profile

Gone Girl Clues

No Real Clue To Amy's Motivation

What about Amy’s motivation? This is difficult to work out. She grows up to become a successful children’s author in her early twenties. She appears to have had a charmed childhood. Her only regret is that her character was brighter and more confident than she was – hardly the basis for a sociopathic mindset. The moment she runs into a few money problems and experiences her first adultery, she goes to great lengths to plan a deeply vindictive crime which has little chance of coming off favourably.

The profile doesn’t stack up: adults who behave like this typically have very controlling abusive parents and they don’t go from being successful very wealthy creatives to highly manipulative vengeful killers, even if they have had a few weird experiences with stalker like men. I was half-expecting the final act to reveal that she had been abused by her father, but there wasn’t a sign of this.


Amy claims in her diary that her husband Nick is violent and distant. But we don’t see any real evidence of this. Nick is laid back and languid. The only time, prior to her disappearance, when we see him get ‘violent’ with her is when he pushes her in the hallway for nagging him about having a baby. She writes in her diary that what frightened her the most was that she saw in him a desire to hit her again. All I saw was utter exasperation on the man’s face that she had driven him to push her and hurt her. Added to this, these accounts are all Amy’s say-so – hearsay in other words, designed to set Nick up for her ‘murder’, so nothing she says in her diary is actually reliable.

Nick tells his sister and, later the detective, that Amy is a control-freak. Amy’s first date, whom Nick meets in a bar, says the same. But, even here, there is little evidence of her actually being a control freak – it’s another case of someone’s hearsay. Maybe this is the point of the story – you can’t believe either side in a marriage. This is an interesting theme, but it’s so steeped in melodrama it’s never explored convincingly.

Spoilt brats

Another thing: their alleged debt problem. We hear they have credit card bills of $117,000 – but amazingly they carry on living in a huge house as if they merely had to cut back on fashion luxuries and dining out. The interest on a credit card bill of $117,000 would bankrupt any couple. And why isn’t Amy writing any more? Why’s she stopped, given up, lost so much money? It’s never explained. Is she just one helluva spoilt bitch? In fact this couple are both spoilt brats.

Nick is hard to sympathise with less because he has an affair, more because the film’s raison d’etre lies in the whodunnit aspect of the story; Nick is less a real man, more a cypher in the mystery.

Also Ben Afleck isn’t all that convincing as a potential wife killer: he just looks so laidback and just kind of cheesed off all the way through. You get the feeling he went for the needy student he has an affair with purely out of boredom and lust, it was never the beginnings of any kind of motive for killing Amy.

So that’s my analysis of Gone Girl. Sorry if I killed the twists for you, but I suspect you’ve already seen this movie by now!


Guest post by Shiona Penrake




One Response to “Gone Girl – Under The Knife”

  1. Tim Lane says:

    I was wondering whose fingerprints would they find all over those hidden ‘toys’ found in the sister’s woodshed. Not his. Not his sister’s. If they were fingerprint free then that raises a completely different question.

    Also high on the stupidity index, who wears a money belt to play putt-putt only to come off at just the wrong time in front of just the wrong kind of people. Stupid character or stupid/forced/cliched writing?

    Under the ‘not paranoid enough’ category she thinks he’s wearing a wire but the house couldn’t possibly be wired for sound. I know the following nude scene was supposed to have disconnected at least one of our brains.

    The boyfriend who had supposedly kidnapped her was in his East Coast (New York I think though it seemed like Boston images).When Affleck called on him. Though he did show up at the Find Amy Rally before that… not sure why someone who supposedly was the kidnapper would do that.

    On the ‘not surprising’ side I am not surprised that the St. Louis hospital could only provide a change of clothes (scrubs) and not a shower. Must not have been covered by her insurance or ObamaCare … although I thought the unwashed masses was a primary target group of Obama Care. Perhaps that demographic must remain unwashed.

    There was one thing your daughter might have missed was that the original plan was for the wife to commit suicide. She just needed enough time and money to last her through the trial. Still stupid but hey, she was crazy.

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