For the final part of this 4-part series of guest reviews written by students at Vashon Island High School, I present a review of Gone Girl written by Mary Lawrence. (In case you missed it: Thanks to English teacher Steven Denlinger, I was a guest teacher for three days in journalism and science fiction classes, and we focused on the art of writing film reviews. It’s an honor to share some of the best reviews that came out of our short time together.)

What Mary turned in isn’t so much a traditional film review as much as it is a critical close-up of one of director David Fincher’s signature techniques. I think it demonstrates some good attention not only to what the filmmaker is doing, but why he’s doing it.

All this time I’d thought we were strangers,
and it turned out we knew each other intuitively,
in our bones,
in our blood.
It was kind of romantic.
Catastrophically romantic.

Gillian Flynn, Gone Girl

Gone Girl was bound to turn heads. The all-star cast includes Ben Affleck, Neil Patrick Harris, Tyler Perry, and Rosamund Pike as our protagonist (or antagonist?) Amy Dunne. These actors are pointedly diverse stylistically, and yet are able to weave a film that flows and ebbs with a sense of uniformity.

The director of Gone Girl, David Fincher, is most commonly known for his films Fight Club and The Social Network — both use colors as modes of transition between scenes and as indications of significant events. In Gone Girl, Fincher emphasizes this method. The colorful themes of this movie are what first caught my attention: the contrast between the icy blues and cool greys of New York City in the Dunne’s glory days, and the stale beiges of Missouri depict development within the plot. The use of color in this film tells a story in and of itself. Sharp white and metallic tones of the police station and the hospital are unnerving. Most scenes surrounding Nick have soft and diluted colors, while ones with Amy have sharp and cold ones. However, as the plot unfolds and we realize the truth about Amy Dunne, the colors around her become less harsh, and transform into warm yellows and baby blues. The first time we see Amy after her disappearance, she is barreling down the highway surrounded by the smooth light of the sun.

Besides colors, the moral is arguably the most controversial aspect to this film. If one were to ask the average moviegoer what this new film is about, they would probably describe it as “that one movie where the crazy wife destroys her husband’s life and kills a guy.¨  However, to fully appreciate Gone Girl and its lessons, one must understand the deeper level of thematic weight it carries. I argue that this film serves as an excellent example of the kinks within the American Dream and its illusion of marriage. We often slip into this illusion with the assumption that humans are born as halves, only to become whole after they have met their true love. Gone Girl explores the truth that love is not a perfectly balanced fraction  made of two halves. And when we pretend that it is, we are unable to cope with the reality of our changing relationships. While the Dunne’s situation is an exaggerated example of this critique, it still demonstrates the consequences of our societal expectations of love and commitment.

Amy Elliot Dunne has been manipulated since the first debut of her parent’s money-making machine: the Amazing Amy children’s book series. She has been transformed into what she refers to as “Cool Girl”. As Amy understands, within every social scene, there will always be Cool Girl. At a college, a frat boy’s Cool Girl can do keg stands, be “chill” with his friends making derogatory comments, eat two hamburgers and never weigh over 120 pounds. A hipster’s Cool Girl would read comic books, understand his personal opinions on Bukowski, and is in with every obscure underground band one could name. I could go on to describe the endless types of Cool Girls, but I won’t, because she doesn’t exist.

She doesn’t exist and she never will, but if Amy had been the Cool Girl while meeting and falling in love with Nick, then who is she if C.G. ever actually existed? Nick, when the facade of Cool Girl is inevitably drained from Amy, becomes bored. He is disinterested in his wife’s current self.  Nick is unable to adjust from his and Amyś once ¨perfect¨ relationship to the reality of their withered marriage. This is when his preconceived understanding of his “other half” shatters. He chases a younger woman and owns Amy as a plaything. In the opening scene, Nick even pets Amy as an owner would a dog. One of the ending scenes has the same layout, however where their body language was once dominating on Nick’s end and subordinating on Amy’s, it is now that of mutual power fed by their fear of one another.

The Dunne’s actions throughout the film caused their marriage to be stripped of any assumed notions they had of one another. After being exposed to each other’s bare selves, the Dunne’s relationship becomes a tentative one, pieced together by the foundations of mistrust and manipulation.

“We weren’t ourselves when we fell in love,
and when we became ourselves – surprise! – we were poison.
We complete each other in the nastiest,
ugliest possible way.”

-Gillian Flynn, from Gone Girl

Mary Lawrence is a senior at Vashon Island High School. She enjoys vibrant color schemes and pesto pasta! Mary hopes to enter the film industry after high school and college.