Some Ramblings - Gone Girl (2014) by Srinivas Kanchibhotla
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The couple in question should be the very definition of an ideal and a successful marriage - young, beautiful and upwardly mobile socially and economically. He has a flourishing career as a doctor and she, a contended homemaker, with a couple of adorable offsprings, all living happily in a sprawling apartment in Upper West Side, Manhattan. Couples as these are for whom cute Hallmark greetings cards are written and adorable advertisements are made... Except, the cracks and the fault lines lurk just beneath the surface. They eye each other with green envy when one catches the other indulging in even harmless kind of flirting with the opposite sex at high profile parties. Their wishes and greetings and affections for each other have become more and more perfunctory. Taking the other's word or even acknowledging the other's presence has become such a chore. The tension was building up in the relationship and that tinderbox of a marriage was waiting for that one little spark to blow it all up. And it all comes apart during a moment of honest confession, aided by a generous inhalation of marijuana, that behind the veneer of a doting mother and a faithful wife was a trapped and a frustrated wife who came real close to cheating and eloping with a handsome hunk she came across in the same hotel, where the couple were celebrating their tenth year of wedded bliss. How the feeling that he never knew his wife even after all these years drives the husband into a jealous rage of revenge and self destruction by venturing into the dangerous and seedy by-lanes of promiscuity and infidelity, forms a searing examination of the very concept of marriage in Stanley Kubrick's 'Eyes Wide Shut'. And the closing dialogue of the movie says it all, when the husband confesses his sins of amorality to a torn apart wife and asks what should be his first act of repentance, she thoughtfully replies, 'we have to fuck'. Deep down physicality is the only expression of affection and at that level there is no difference between a very evolved human being and a primate that acts on pure instinct of lust, is the troubling truth that forms the bedrock of relationships, and the rest is merely window dressing.

'Gone Girl' is Fincher's 'Eyes Wide Shut'. It plays on multiple levels, as a thriller, a social commentary of the media's perverse pervasiveness, a microscopic examination of a marriage gone bad, and manages to score on all levels. What might have attracted the otherwise obsessive and meticulous Fincher to this straightforward tale of marital accord turned sour is that mystery of marriage that flouts every norm of nature regarding fidelity and familiarity and yet keeps going on and on, that strength of the fabric of union that gets pulled in different directions all the times and yet sustains. Once the initial burst of attraction dies down what is it that keeps a relation in tact? Desire? Necessity? Desperation? Need? or in case of high profile marriages, Per-Nuptial agreements? Insurance Policies? That the really rich can only enter into a wedlock only after their respective lawyers have ironed out all the intricate details of who gets what in case the marriage breaks up, is one of the charming aspects of a Western wedding that promises a happily ever after, the strong bond that forces a couple into years of marriage, besides love and trust. Pre-nups and insurance policies are the only reasons why some relationships endure. And when these two are taken out of the equation, and things seem to close in (loss of job of one partner causing the situation where both of them are in each others faces all the time), that's when the relationship is tested/stretched to the extreme. Doug Liman's 'Mr and Mrs. Smith' explored similar territory about how a relationship can blow off the steam that eventually and naturally builds up over a period of time by simply beating each other up to pulp (ironically linking it back to Fincher's 'Fight Club'). Similarly, how far do people in a festering relationship go to release the exhaust valve of boredom, tedium, acrimony and bitterness? 'Gone Girl' exaggerates that aspect, satirizing the self-help columns in Men's and Women's magazines - How to lit the fire back in your bedroom, How to be a fresh bride/groom to your loved one every single day, How to continue fantasizing and yet keep loving and et al. The conclusion can only be a marriage is an enigma wrapped in a mystery and bow-tied with a puzzle - never to be understood, only to be experienced.

Crime is serious business in America, right from the breaking of the news, to covering it, following it, discussing it, dissecting it ad nauseam, judging it from all corners, masticating it and spitting it out before moving on to next crime du jour. Before the verdict is pronounced by the jury of peers, the accused is either vilified/exonerated on the daily television on a daily basis by a jury of media pundits. That every high profile crime in the American landscape follows this tired trajectory of character assassinations, drudging up of the ugly past of the participants (accused & witnesses alike), the actual trail and the post trail festivities that include television interviews of the jurors or the exonerated, book deals and Hollywood opportunities, is indicative of how tired and predictable the judicial process has been reduced to, mainly because of the voracious appetite of the 24-hour news cycle of the media. 'Gone Girl' however doesn't go to the extent of Oliver Stone's 'Natural Born Killers' vilifying/satirizing/implicating media as that silent partner in crime behind the actual crime itself, even with the display of detached professionalism, the tone of moral indignation and high-handedness and the degree of self-importance that the media conducts itself with.

'Gone Girl' is not a comfortable movie, it has no likable characters, it concentrates on the crevices that relationships slip through over a period of time, it is all about selfishness and misanthropy....yet it delights with its morbidity and revels in the gallows humor, much like how in a long term marriage, the only humor left in the tank is the one that always comes at the other's expense.


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