Until Fincher’s Gone Girl I had never really warmed to Rosamund Pike as an actress, but her performance as Amy Elliott Dunne was truly a revelation. Her Amy is whip smart, acutely aware of the way that others, particularly men, perceive her. She is all too aware of how she needs to act in order for men to fawn over her.
Amy is woman with a very keen sense of justice. Discovering that her husband has been having an affair, she takes it upon herself to exact her retribution. For Amy, this form of punishment is entirely justified by her husband’s actions, regardless of their legality. Amy knows exactly who she is, and how much she has allowed herself to acquiesce to her husband’s will. She has intentionally made herself pliable, without ever truly compromising her sense of self.
Her ‘cool girl speech’ as featured in both the source text and the adaptation feels seminal: boiling down the male perception to a succinct account of the fantasy types that women become in order to makes themselves amenable. Amy, despite allowing herself to become the cool girl in the past, has found herself ill-rewarded for her pains. In Amy’s eyes and in Amy’s sense of justice, her act of betrayal to her true self in favour of her husband’s affections should result in her husband’s unerring affection. Finding out that no such remuneration exists for her, she is determined to reinstate the natural order.
What I truly love about Amy’s character (and in turn Gillian Flynn’s characterisation) is her depiction of a woman who is highly intelligent and utterly relenting in her pursuit of ill-gotten justice. There are no apologies for Amy’s machinations, no upsetting event, no troubled childhood to account for her actions (indeed Amy’s childhood is one of luxury and privilege). She is simply a cruel, manipulative and thoroughly engaging character.