The characters in Gone Girl fascinated me…Nick and Amy done of course being the most obvious. Throughout the book Nick Dunne is many things; a murderer, a misunderstood man, a man who cheated on his wife and even a loving husband in some parts. I think the failure of Nick and Amy Dunne’s marriage was down to both of them, not just Amy (as I think the film implies slightly more, the book gives more of a rounded image). Nick is arguably just as psychopathic as Amy, he too has thoughts of killing her (again, this might just be in the book), and visually describes what it would be like to strangle Amy. In the image above, Nick is shown smiling next to his missing wife’s photograph, which at the start of the book definitely set Nick up for a suspicious start.
There are even hints at domestic abuse in Amy and Nick’s relationship. I believe Nick’s psychopathic tendencies stem both from his father’s abusive past, and also the frustration of Amy’s perfected plan making him look guilty; this brings out the worst in Nick. Nick is an unreliable narrator, for instance he never actually reveals to us where he was the morning of Amy’s disappearance, after making up he was at the beach to the cops. And why is it that he keeps referring to his wife in the past tense? However, after we find out Amy is actually alive we are forced into believing Nick regardless of our suspicions.
Amy Elliott Dunne is certainly not the perfect all American girl she is first portrayed to be. As the plot progresses and we find out about her plan, she becomes a much more obvious psychopath. She is incredibly deceiving and one of the most cunning characters I’ve ever come across. Whilst successfully pulling off the ‘Cool Girl’ attitude she is actually the opposite. She is extremely good at planning, hence why her ‘death’ is pulled off with such precision. Amy Dunne has constantly been under pressure from her parents and the public to live up to the expectations set by her alter ego – ‘Amazing Amy’. This definitely has a detrimental effect on Amy as it would anyone – she becomes an extreme perfectionist. However she hides this damaged side to her by playing ‘Cool Girl’ who, she claims, is the girl Nick falls in love with – ‘Nick loved a girl who didn’t exist.’
Desi, although also clearly obsessive over Amy, is almost the victim in this story and I think this shows just how psychopathic Amy is, as she contrasts starkly with Desi. He doesn’t see through Amy’s fake innocence and is brutally betrayed by her when she kills him and even goes as far as faking him rape and hurt her. When Amy realises she cannot control Desi as she can others (like Noelle Hawthorne who as Amy puts it has a ‘soul of plastic – easy to mould, easy to wipe away’) the only thing she can think of to do is kill him.
When I first read the ending of ‘Gone Girl’ I have to say I felt let down… Amy and Nick staying together awaiting the birth of their child. I expected something more to happen, perhaps an actual murder? However, after looking over it again I realised the ending was completely fitting, and even more eerie than if one had killed the other. It proves that Nick and Amy are just as ‘bad’ as each other, and, as Nick’s sister Go puts it, ‘addicted to each other’. Amy can control Nick, as she knows after Nick’s troubled childhood there is no way he would abandon his own child, and thus she uses this against him. Although, at first, Nick is still bitter to Amy, I get the impression that with time he slowly sinks back into routine as he knows he’s stuck with Amy, he can’t beat her. For example, he starts writing a novel revealing Amy for who she really is, yet never publishes it. This may be because he has given up, knows she would find a way to twist it against him, or perhaps because he likes ‘Cool Amy’ – the girl he fell in love with. She’s coming back again and Nick is addicted to her, the way she builds him up and makes him feel confident, (just as his mother had done, Nick is portrayed as a ‘Mummy’s boy’ and Amy replaces this mother figure).
Overall I would recommend, as always, reading the book before watching the film. I think the book presents the characters more effectively (especially in the ending), however, for a film adaptation I was pretty impressed.
All images taken from the film adaptation