This is not the super fabulous popcorn movie review site, but I’ll try my best. I have been resisting the urge to watch any film not a Mission Impossible installation, but after watching someone’s walls cave in as she was faced with a crumbling marriage, I relented. I took her to see the film Gone Girl, this afternoon.
My aim was to illustrate to her that her marriage problems were not easily fixable and that she needed to not ask her friends and family to persuade him to stay. It is disrespectful and he’ll definitely react against any form of emotional blackmail. He said he wanted a one year separation and I advised her to go with it, along with a detailed separation contract so that she’s not financially supporting her husband’s mistress. It’s sound advice, which is what I thought she wanted but she says its impossible to agree to be separated because they’re married. Completely twisted logic, at which point I thought I would stop giving any more advice.
Her priest, relatives, mentors and attorneys have already advised her to get a divorce. “You’re being abused. Don’t put up with it.” I asked her what she thought of this advice and she says she’ll allow him any number of mistresses and help repay his huge debts if he stays in the marriage. This was said even as she was aware that her husband’s Disney World trip with another woman was marked in his calendar. Even as the repayment notices are piling up in her post box, she has asked everyone around her to cheer her on and guarantee results in the situation. Then she complained that he casually had breakfast, which she prepared for him, just minutes before leaving with his stuff. Insane, right? Now you know how I felt. I was screaming in my head as I calmly listened to all that. Lots of women behave like this when they should be losing their patience.
As I’ve discussed in October, a woman in love is her own worst enemy. My cousin will end up in exactly this position someday, and she is already incapable of seeing her situation objectively or hearing any reasonable advice. I found the film, Gone Girl, to be underwhelming for the hype. (What is it with the US media and the silly, over the top reaction to nothing in particular?)
However, there are valuable lessons to be learned. The story situates the characters at the lowest point of anticlimax. They are crushed by the weight of failure, but refuse to comfort each other. As it turns out, they loved their own avatars. Ben Batfleck’s character is a type of guy who demands, even believes that he is entitled to, the hottest woman in town. He believes his awesomeness will convince the woman to relinquish her right to a perspective. His every pronouncement is ambrosia, his bodily secretions are nectar.
Hotness. You don’t marry a person’s body parts. You marry their being. This is someone you trust with your life, but most people I know are not honest enough to admit they get caught up in that checklist of physical, sociocultural and financial assets. In doing so, they ignore the seed of bigger problems that’ll explode in the marriage later. The mistakes are made over and over again. The lessons are never learned.
Any woman can let a man talk and talk about his dreams and visions and go along with them to win his approval. But how many men would marry a woman who says, “You are a deluded wanker. Find something else to do”? Women are taught that it’s important to support a life partner no matter what, and many are prepared to lie to “get” one. Rosamund Pike’s character is interesting because she knows that her husband wants to be fed lies, which he needs to prop up his fragile ego. He’s prepared to marry a pathological, manipulative vampire in order to get his ego stroked. She needs to go darker and darker in order to maintain the first lie, which is that she thinks he’s awesome.
Lying requires a lot of energy. Ben Batfleck’s character needs a buxom young girl who is easily influenced to help him with his self esteem problem. He trained his mistress by overwhelming her with attention. After that, he fed her the “us” fantasy so she could self delude on her own time. He let her believe that frantic assignations in his office would guarantee his love and devotion. He should have thought of this strategy the first time around, and married a young, naive girl. But he lied to himself in the first place, thinking he was Batman enough to take on a sophisticated, overexposed woman and force her to submit to his mediocre ideations. “I’m better than you, and I can control you.” He does not have what it takes to achieve this, because she had the jump on him from “hello.”
The person I saw the movie with said it was a timely intervention. She then set about creating a social media account to keep up with the mistress. Her husband got it right with her, his second time around the marriage wheel. He took advantage of her inexperience and rigid thinking, and overwhelmed her with his physical and professional achievements. Fifteen years later, she is prepared to endure anything because her mother in law assured her he will come back, eventually, “dead or alive.” Cold comfort.
Batfleck’s problem is that he’s not a smooth operator. He figured he would ask an overly pampered muse “for a divorce.” Because life’s that simple, right? Use the woman and discard her when she is straining to hold it together for you. The bulk of the film shows his acknowledgement of the fact that he traded his freedom for undeserved praise. He was insane to think that any woman needy enough to go along with his delusions would not devolve into a bloodthirsty psychopath.