David Fincher‘s Gone Girl has been reviewed so extensively and passionately by so many critics over the last few days that tonight’s New York Film Festival “premiere” has been made to seem all but meaningless. Yes, I’m totally cranked about catching the NYFF press screening at 5 pm today (although I wish it could be shown at a better facility than the problematic AMC Lincoln Square) but the decision to let everyone and his brother review it a few days early has undermined this hallowed 52 year-old festival. Everyone is complaining about this. And yet I’m thrilled by Sasha Stone‘s review, which is one of the best pieces of writing she’s delivered in a long while. Because it’s about her as much as the film, and because she offers strong interpretive connections between the film and post-2008 yuppie-hell culture.
“Maybe Gone Girl is about the death of marriage in America,” she writes. “Maybe it’s about the death of that pretty little lie.” [Note: Stone also refers to a “Big Lie” which more or less refers to the same domestic bullshit.] “One thing it’s not about is what almost every film coming out in the next few months is about. It’s not about men.
“David Fincher’s [latest] takes up where The Social Network left off. Both films are a meditation on getting those things we believe we’re all entitled to, by any means necessary. With Mark Zuckerberg that gold ring was success and a circle of friends. With Amy Dunne (Rosamund Pike), it’s the perfect life she feels is owed to her. The Big Lie promises women that they will never be cheated on, that their husband will love them with unfaltering devotion and want to fuck them every night for the next 50 years. They want their husband to listen to their problems, appreciate their talents, admire their fashion sense, crave their cooking, and pose for happy photos they can post on social networks.
“It almost doesn’t even matter who that guy is, which is how Nick (Ben Affleck) almost inadvertently fits into the picture. He’s Joe Anybody — a pretty dumbass whom Amy can plug in to her pretty little puzzle. The last essential piece.
“The power of projection and manipulation of image is the new normal. One need look no further than how Kim Kardashian spent hours organizing the floral arrangement for the Instagram photo of her marriage to Kanye West, which broke the Instagram record for “most liked.” Does anyone even care anymore if any of it was real? It doesn’t matter. Give the people what they want.
“Gone Girl eviscerates this disgusting new dimension of American culture.
“We women live under the cloak of inadequacy every day of our lives. We eat that shit for breakfast (low carb please), and stuff our faces with it during daylight hours as we dutifully count our calories, contort ourselves in yoga class, shave our pussies, wax our legs, pluck our eyebrows, wear sunscreen, stuff our swollen feet into high heels and then vomit it all up before we go to bed at night. Some of us are driven to the brink of insanity, but none of us can ever really talk about it because to merely confess that it’s a struggle is to admit we’ve failed at being what society expects us to be. And everywhere we look there are always prettier, younger girls.
“A monster is born in Gone Girl, a monster built from the cries of frustration from a hundreds million women. And that monster is prowling the quiet countryside operating from a handmade rulebook, a catalogue of justifications and entitlements, the end result of ranking high self-esteem as the utmost character trait.”