Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Why I Love The Ending of Gone Girl*

*Spoiler Alert: 
Before continuing, please note that I will give away hints to the 
ending of Gone Girl, a brilliant work by Gillian Flynn recently made into a film. 
If you do NOT wish to discover clues to the ending here, STOP READING NOW.
And for heaven's sake ... read the damn book or go see the film!

At this moment, I am positive my brother is shaking his head in frustration. That is if he even read this far. To say he strongly disliked the conclusion to the novel Gone Girl would be a vast understatement. We ventured jointly into the crazy world of that book about a year ago, promising to discuss as we read and finished it. Our response to the ending was of polar opposites. And, when I saw the opening Saturday night showing of the film and posted that I liked its conclusion, he staunchly announced that meant under no circumstances would he go see it. 

He absolutely hated the ending.

The ending of Gone Girl is the subject of much debate and I'm certain author Gillian Flynn is grinning in Cheshire Cat-like satisfaction. It's no Disney movie.  The language and action is coarse at times. And the ending isn't neat. But the film's closing moment with Amy ... the slow pan of the camera ... the look in her eyes ... the final words Nick utters ... WOW. Just Perfect.

To me.

Let me begin by stating that neither lead character in Gone Girl is of high moral fiber. Both lack core redeeming characteristics. Readers tend to like stories neat, valuing the "good guy" and preferring to clearly identify the "bad guy .. or girl." But, in this story. both of the characters are a bit ... well let's just say shady ... 

But ... and here I know my brother is shaking his head and uttering a cry of horrified frustration ... I LIKE Amy Dunne. I admire her tenacity ... her cleverness ... her foresight ... her creative approach to life and the unsatisfying poker hand it dealt her. I like her Darkness. I like her unwillingness to be manipulated, dismissed, controlled, ignored, limited or beaten. I like how she fights.

See, I like strong women. I admire those who won't go down lightly or trip like one of those silly girls running through a dark graveyard in a B-movie horror film. 

I stand strongly in the court of Anne Boleyn and cheer her clever manipulation of Henry VIII. No, it didn't end well for her. But despite losing her head, she dramatically altered England's religion and established a legacy that left another undauntable woman -- Elizabeth I -- in charge of a country that emphatically rejected her mother. 

I dream to someday perform the role of Regina in The Little Foxes. I've read the script and watched the film with Bette Davis numerous times. And I imagine a day I stand at the top of the stairs and watch Horace -- the weak man that I despise -- collapse and thus finally give me what I want. It's an electric, horrifying and chilling scene. 

Aeschylus' Oresteia is my favorite Greek dramaElectra's darkness and ultimate revenge on her weak mother and stupid boyfriend is dynamic. 

I admire Cleopatra and her passion. I cheer how she contrived her meeting and eventual seduction of Julius Caesar. I thrill at her clever handling of Mark Antony.  I celebrate her unwillingness to be led away in chains by the fool Octavius and her strong choice to determine her own fate and death. 

Though I don't always embrace her politics, I even admire the tenacity of Hillary Clinton fighting her way through the "old boys political club." She kept her head high through all sorts of muck. And she didn't allow herself to be played as a "victim" when Bill's ... "other activities" came into the light. 

So I like Amy Dunne. She's a fighter. She's messy and understands the world. She refuses to comply to limits she doesn't accept and orchestrates the game she plays like a thought out chess match. She writes her own rules and pays the price for them at times. But life goes along on her terms ... not determined by someone else's expectations or rules. She understands the men  -- and women for that matter -- around her and won't allow herself to be underestimated, over-looked, dismissed, anticipated, or pigeon-hold into some behavior model established in Victorian times. 

Sadly, I'm probably in the minority here. But, and this is odd ... Women tend to be less than supportive of other women -- especially strong women. There exists a desire to pull those women down and to blame them or condemn them or reject them for their intelligent use of their mind or sexuality or creativity. Women are threatened by other women and strangely turn on their own kind. When a man wrongs them, they are quick to blame another woman.  And men seem pleased to have the spotlight turned away from them.

Case in point: the Biblical woman (who is NOT Mary Magdalene no matter what popular culture might suggest) found in the "very act of adultery." The masses want to stone her. But it takes two to tango. Where's the Man? Why not stone him? She couldn't have been discovered in the "very act of adultery" all alone! 

Women are just hard on other women.  Why is that? Shouldn't we stand together and cheer each other on -- Girl Power and all that jazz -- and proclaim female victories? Why is a strong woman who desires to shape her own destiny -- one who refuses to conform -- a "bad girl?" 

But I digress.

Amy wasn't stupid in Gone Girl. Yes, she took an extreme tactic BUT Nick was an idiot and a horrible jerk in SO many ways. Should we truly take His side ... feel sorry for him and see him as the victim? He set himself up for it. I might even suggest that He had it coming. So Amy didn't follow his rules. So she fought back and contrived a game she could control. So she wasn't weak. Why do we point our finger at her as evil ... bad ... sick and twisted? 

Why should we feel sorry for Nick  and want Amy to get some kind of comeuppance? Why does SHE deserve to be brought down? 

Okay, there was the murder, but that guy was crazy anyway ... 

Years ago, I started what I thought would simply be a short story about just such a woman. A woman with ideas and a plan. A woman who wouldn't allow herself to be overlooked or pigeon-hold or limited or dismissed when the rules of society -- or the rules of the men around her -- demanded her conformance to antiquated norms or expectations. It took on a life of its own and became a 40 chapter book. Oh, it's still in draft form. But maybe ... just maybe someday I will finish it and publish it and there will be one more strong woman to create debate. 

I wonder if my brother will like her and the ending of that story ...
                                                                                                                               -  Jenni