In the Dark

The Skull Beneath the Skin

Gone Girl
Produced by New Regency Pictures
Directed by David Fincher
Screenplay by Gillian Flynn, from her novel
Distributed by Twentieth Century Fox

If only James Thurber were still with us.  I’d love to hear him address Gone Girl, both Gillian Flynn’s novel and David Fincher’s film adaptation thereof.  Why?  Because the story trades on Thurber’s central theme: the perpetual war between men and women.  Admittedly, Flynn has rendered this chestnut with a far more savagely satiric sheen than Thurber would ever have allowed.  Flynn has brought to the party a particularly mordant, not to say homicidal, tincture.  Still, like Thurber, her aim has been to create a stylized whammy of sexual impertinence.  Unfortunately, Fincher’s talents don’t run to satire.  He’s clumsily literalized everything in sight.

Both the novel and the film, however, do manage to convey Thurber’s view that, while men might win a battle in the sex wars now and then, ultimate feminine victory is never in serious doubt.  Thurber knew that on the field of battle men were no match for the guileful tactics deployed by women.  Not heterosexual men, anyway.  Give the merest glimpse of feminine beauty, the heterosexual male is likely to sink into a libidinous lather quite inimical to reason.  Men...

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