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YMMV: Gone Girl

Both

  • Alternate Character Interpretation: More prevalent in the film rather than the book. Is Amy just pure evil or a Jerkass Woobie? Given she was willing to kill herself as the major part of her plan and wants to come home after Nick shows he's capable of being the husband she remembers, it seems possible to view her actions as not simple psychosis but being desperately unhappy. Rosamund Pike's performance also seems to indicate that Amy genuinely loved Nick in her own way but felt betrayed by his attempt to box her in as his unwanted nagging wife from New York. This, despite the fact she moved across the country to a small town in order to be with him.
    • Oddly, averted with Nick. Is Nick the grieving husband, a Nice Guy, and cool sophisticate who is the first person to ever treat Amy as a person? Or is Nick a boderline misogynist, a controlling asshole, and unambitious loser who gave up on a prestigious life in New York to become a community college professor who sleeps with much-younger students? The answer is, he's all of these things. Nick is a multifaceted guy with both dark and light qualities. Qualities which come to the fore depending on his circumstances or desire to show them.
  • Awesome Moments/Heartwarming Moments: Nick managing to turn the tide just a little bit and get some of the public back on his side with the video of him, half-drunk, professing his love for Amy and begging her to come back. It works so well that even Amy herself was convinced to return.
    • Near the end of the book Nick torpedo's Amy's latest scheme to keep him in line (framing him for poisoning her) showing that now that he knows how the game is played he can play it as good as Amy does.
  • Broken Base: The Cool Girl speech has divided feminists over whether Amy is making a good point about women not changing themselves to fit the ideals of men or whether she's just condemning women who don't fit her ideal of what is proper behavior.
    • The movie subtly argues that Amy is wrong by singling out women, failing to see that humans in general behave that way - this is highlighted by her wrongly identifying one of the car passengers she passes by, who is sitting with another woman, as a Cool Girl,
  • Incest Subtext:
    • In the book, there's something extremely off about the relationship between Desi and Jacqueline: as a teen, Desi obsessively dates girls who look like younger versions of his mother, and they still live together once Desi is edging into middle age and his three brothers have long since moved out. There's also the fact that when Desi complains that no-one sends love letters any more, Jacqueline asks if her son saved hers, to which he replies "of course". Now it could be that she's talking about her love letters to Desi's father, but what with the vague wording and all the other hints of the Collings' constantly sexual vibe and odd attachment to one another, it doesn't necessarily come across that way.
    • Discussed, Averted and (in the movie) Exploited with Nick and Go. As male-female twins who were one another's lifelong best friends, they had to contend with rumours of Brother-Sister Incest in high school; Nick makes a semi-humorous point of stating for the record that he and his sister have never had sex, or thought about having sex, or done anything other than like each other a lot in a completely sibling-appropriate way. In the movie it becomes more of a plot point, when media speculation of an incestuous affair between the two is used to smear them when they are both implicated in Amy's disappearance.
  • Jerkass Woobie: Amy, in a way. She does terrible things to people who were repentant about their mistakes, but it's implied that being brought up to be 'Amazing Amy' left some considerable emotional damage on her, "I remember always being baffled by other children. I would be at a birthday party and watch the other kids giggling and making faces, and I would try to do that too, but I wouldn't understand why." Her parents expected her to be perfect, and each day was an opportunity to fail.
  • Magnificent Bitch: Amy, full stop.
  • Shocking Swerve: After growing attached to Diary Amy, it can be a shock for the viewer to discover that not only was Nick being played by Amy, so was the viewer.
  • The Woobie:
    • Go is probably the biggest contender- she has to helplessly watch as her twin brother is accused of murdering his own wife, discovering that he has lied to her and has the press constantly asking if she was involved in Amy's disappearance. By the end of the story she also has to live with the knowledge that her brother intends to stay with a manipulative, murderous psychopath.
    • Andie, to some extent.
  • X Meets Y: Jodi Picoult meets Criminal Minds


Book

  • Esoteric Happy Ending: The ending is deliberately written to be this. An interesting interpretation is that Amy finally has someone who she can be herself with and Nick has the child he always wanted. They may eventually kill each other but, at heart, they're both sociopaths.
  • Genius Bonus: When Nick is recounting Amy's obsession with finishing everything, he remembers her reading Haruki Murakami's "The Wind Up Bird Chronicle", which is about an estranged couple, along with the wife suddenly going missing.
  • Shocking Swerve: A book-exclusive one: Amy shows up bloodied on Nick's doorstep after murdering Desi. The movie averts this by actually showing the earlier of the two events in question (as an Author's Saving Throw) before showing the one that takes place chronologically later.

The film adaptation:

  • Alternate Character Interpretation: Nick comes across as less of a sociopath in the film; he's prone to emotion, genuinely cares about people, and empathizes. To be sure, he's a schlubby kind of guy and painfully awkward when out of his comfort zone (read: the entire movie), but his faults are presented as more of the garden-variety mid-life crisis type. This more human characterisation has the side effect of making the already dark ending bleaker in the film than in the book. Book Nick seems excited by Amy and willing and able to manipulate her in turn; film Nick comes across as disgusted but powerless and any fascination with Amy more akin to Stockholm Syndrome than anything else.
    • Andie comes off as more shallow and vapid than her book counterpart thanks to a comparative lack of screentime- was she sleeping with Nick because she genuinely loved him, or did she just think that it might give her a leg up in her career?
  • Alternate Aesop Interpretation: You can be much happier in marriage if you both pretend to be better people than you are. Alternatively, don't cheat on your spouse, ever.
  • Author's Saving Throw: The movie shows a scene that was only discussed in the book, but was criticized for not actually including the event in the narrative: Amy's murder of Desi, in all of its gory details.
  • Awesome Music: As always, Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross' score is a highlight. Especially the track that plays over Nick discovering the contents of the woodshed and Amy's murder of Desi.
  • Broken Aesop: Amy's Cool Girl speech about being true to yourself is undermined by the fact that she seems as honest with Nick in her flashbacks as she's ever with anyone. Therefore, her anger seems misplaced. Likewise, Amy is incredibly unhappy when she's left to be herself and quickly falls into old patterns in order to make friends. Of course, given that Amy is a sociopath with narcissistic traits, the Aesop-breaking is likely deliberate.
    • Not to mention that one woman in a car that she focuses on as a "Cool Girl" turns out to be sitting next to another woman, not a man. It sort of undermines Amy's point that women only act in certain ways to draw male attention, as opposed to simply being the way humans act for each other.
  • He Really Can Act:
    • There's been praise for Tyler Perry's performance as a media-savvy attorney even among critics who don't normally enjoy his work.
    • Although he's given a number of great performances in other films before this, there were a few who still expressed surprise and enthusiasm when stating how much they enjoyed Ben Affleck as Nick Dunne.
    • Similarly, Rosamund Pike surprised a few viewers with how she nailed Amy.
  • Nightmare Fuel: Amy's murder of Desi.
  • Unfortunate Implications: As one particularly grumpy and sarcastic reviewer put it, a big portion of the film's plot hinges on "shitty cultural assumptions about rape," namely, that "the cops never ignore rape victims, and accused rapists are always, always convicted on the strength of the victim's testimony," and that women will lie about rape to get what they want. This is somewhat diluted by having the character in question be a complete sociopath, but the point remains.
    • Though the case in this work doesn't really fit that profile of "crying rape". She didn't just say she'd been raped. She came to the cops with ligature marks and vaginal tearing. Sure she, inflicted the wounds herself, but violating oneself with enough force to create genital injuries consistent with rape takes a level of commitment that makes that evidence hard to question.
      • Also, given that Amy's frame-up of Tommy is not treated as okay and used to highlight Amy's sociopathic, ruthless nature, and the women in the film who know Amy better, Margo and Boney in particular, are disgusted by her framing of Desi rather negates the notion that "all women" will stoop to lying. Also, the fact that Desi was established as being 'obsessed' with Amy and she had, you know, Desi's semen inside her makes for a pretty convincing case.

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