Gone Girl has left a strong impression on the film industry, and society at large,   sparking conversation since its release through new films characterized by The Gone Girl Effect.” Following its release in 2015, this movie paved the way for a series of others articulated around the narration of unreliable women.

Ten years ago, David Fincher produced one of his most emblematic films: Gone Girl. This adaptation of Gillian Flynn’s novel Appearances traces the collapse of a couple’s life when the wife, Amy, suddenly disappears. 

The film’s success can undoubtedly be linked to Fincher’s filmography and artistic choices, but  Flynn’s plot itself is a great starting point for a memorable movie. At first glance, the storyline might appear to be a classic thriller, nothing surprising to seasoned audiences, but the game of appearances  goes far beyond simple detective entertainment. Indeed, the initial perception of Amy disintegrates little by little to finally expose the real Amy. Without spoiling the denouement, it is evident that the story becomes a cruel and macabre tale, finely interpreted by Rosamund Pike, a British actress. From the very start of the film, viewers are introduced to a complex story by witnessing the autopsy of a couple, the unexpected developments in the character of a woman, and the absurdities of human relationships through Fincher’s production. The audience is transported from the beginning to the end in this plot articulated around a vicious circle.

Fincher is no stranger to social commentaries. As in his film The Social Network, Gone Girl also effectively criticizes society’s love for the exaggeration of already appalling situations through its false empathy for the misfortunes of others. The denunciation is not explicit, but concealed in the plot, which revolves around the disappearance of the main character and the secrets of her personal life. A scathing satire, the thriller attacks conformity and social institutions, more prominently marriage, with a darkness and aggression rare in Hollywood today. Current movies do not usually address those controversial topics in such a raw, unfiltered manner. As a consequence of this, viewers are deeply drawn in by the story, seeing themes such as love and relationships represented through a gruesome angle.

Adding to the importance of this meticulous plot, Amy’s character is central to the storyline: being first introduced as the wife ofNick Dune, she quickly becomes so much more than that simple designation. Viewers quickly understand Amy’s complexities, as a female protagonist who transcends her facade, rendering her narration entirely unreliable. She quickly loses her “girl next door” personality, becoming an unlikeable female character, who criticizes the masculine fantasy of acool girl,” which she had previously used to please her husband. After suddenly disappearing, she leaves the “cool girl” costume for the “gone girl” one, thus becoming a symbol for future movie references. 

Following the release of Gone Girl, many other films have portrayed similarly complex women,  in what has been called the “Gone Girl effect.” The Girl on The Train and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo are notable examples, among many. Like Gone Girl, these films use clever female protagonists to demonstrate the importance of creating enriching mysteries focused on the domestic sphere and social norms,This “Gone Girl effect” phenomenon is made of a biting satire that embodies figures using Machiavellian tactics and manipulation as tools to achieve their means. Being a new focus for both literature and the film industry, Fincher’s release of Gone Girl led to a deluge of stories told from the perspective of unreliable female characters.

 It is through the release of Gone Girl that the American movie industry began to understand that these types of characters are highly appreciated by audiences, generating positive feedback as well as economic benefits. Tales where the protagonist is an unreliable woman are nowadays apart of a growing market that will keep expanding to portray new angles and storylines. 

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