It was one of those nights at home when I knew the television would be full of the usual “nothing to watch”—which seems to be most nights—and so the wife and I decided to check out Redbox. We were in the mood for a mystery or suspense of some kind, so I clicked on the drama section. Running through the titles, I came across Gone Girl and not knowing for sure what it was about I read the description, drama-suspense and my mind drifted to all the Alfred Hitchcock movies I had seen over the years—such as Dial M for Murder, Rear Window, Notorious, and a number of others—and I became excited. After all, Hitchcock has been dubbed “Master of Suspense” and even with an “R” rating, language, nudity, and Ben Affleck; if it turned out to be what I was hoping for, maybe I could overlook the shortcomings.
It wasn’t long into the movie that I recognized it wasn’t going to be what I expected. The plot was easy to follow and I figured out early on that in order for the main character’s wife to get back at him for his infidelity, she faked her own death and framed him for the crime. But, where was the suspense? This isn’t a slap at the author, and not having read the book, my comments apply only to the movie. It seems in today’s movies bizarre, lewd, twisted, and warped behaviors are a substitute for suspense. Suspense grabs you in the gut and keeps you on the edge of your seat. I found none of that present while I watched this movie. I realize there is an appetite for this type of drama, but I was disappointed. Here are the three main reasons this was not a good story:
I couldn’t find a single sympathetic character in this story. Mark Twain said—you’ll notice that I quote Mark Twain often, for a variety of reasons, but the main one being he knew what he was talking about—“The test of any good fiction is that you should care something for the characters; the good to succeed, the bad to fail. The trouble with most fiction is that you want them all to land in hell together, as quickly as possible.” The guy was a lout, the wife was a psychopath, her parents were insufferable snobs, the ex-boyfriend was weak, the adulterous girlfriend was childlike and silly; the closest I could come to liking anyone were his sister and the sheriff, but they were both insignificant and underdeveloped characters. Maybe the intent was that all the characters be despised; if so, mission accomplished. The best outcome—and not the one written—would have been for the two of them to simultaneously poison one another. What I wished for the characters when it was finally over—and I can hardly believe I made it to the end—is that they would all land in hell together, as quickly as possible.
The sex was gratuitous and unnecessary to the story. In all of the sex scenes I found no romance, no tenderness or gentleness; no affection whatsoever. The sex was almost violent. Ben Affleck’s character seemed bored; even while engaging in sex. He participated in sexual intercourse as if it was a simple routine; like taking out the garbage. It reminded me of two rabbits; bang, bang, bang, get off of me and go find another. It was as if the sex was thrown in because they had empty spots to fill. The sex in this film was strictly a physical act with little emotion or attachment. Doing it on a table in the public library? Come on. And the overuse of the f—word is a given.
The characters decisions and actions weren’t credible. I found myself often saying out loud, “No one would do that. That doesn’t make any sense.” Mark Twain also said about the plausibility of events in a story, “the personages of a tale shall confine themselves to possibilities and let miracles alone; or, if they venture a miracle, the author must so plausibly set it forth as to make it look possible and reasonable.” For the Ben Affleck character to stay in the home with a woman he knew had brutally murdered the last guy she had sex with and who had tried to frame him for murder, was more than implausible. For the cops to believe her lame story of being tied up and abused by the man she killed is also preposterous. If she was bound to the bed posts, how did she obtain a box cutter with which to slash her supposed attacker’s throat? And repeatedly shoving a wine bottle violently into her uterus to simulate the results of being raped would be easily discovered as a hoax upon the simplest examination. And if the shed at his sister’s house was always under lock and key, how did his wife, over time, fill it up with a truck load full of goods and not be detected? And the wife’s diary—found in a furnace completely intact—spelling out in excruciating detail a story resembling a Hollywood script; how could that not set off alarm bells of suspicion with the cops; especially knowing that the wife was a writer? Even in science fiction, the events have to be believable. Incredulity is all I have to offer.
There are those of you, after reading my comments, who might be thinking, “But the movie raked in over $368 million. Obviously someone liked it.” My answer to that is; there is no accounting for taste. Fifty Shades of Grey was also a huge success at the box office. Does that speak to a great story or to a lowering of the standards and taste of the populace? I’m sure those cashing in at the bank don’t think about it one way or the other. Twenty four hours after watching the movie, I’ve forgotten most of it. The girl may be gone, but I say good riddance.