‘I’m so annoyed I could murder him.’
It’s a statement I’ve heard many a time from girlfriends who have been wronged, jilted, cheated on or let down by the men they gave their hearts to. It’s a statement we all murmur sympathetically along with, while offering our own broken-hearted woes and cursing the men we would similarly like to kill, hypothetically of course.
Yet with the recent box office hit Gone Girl, Gillian Flynn has created a woman who, instead of bemoaning her husband’s infidelity to sympathetic friends, decides to act as judge, jury and executioner.
Walking out of the cinema I was bowled over with Amy Elliott Dunne who is, actually, amazing.
Yes, Amy is crazy. Without a doubt! She’s categorically psychotic, un-hinged, narcissistic and a series of other psychosis that would take several degrees, and potentially a PHD to diagnose. However, despite all that, I still couldn’t help but admire and sympathise with her.
Amy, like thousands before her, has twisted and turned herself inside and out to be the woman her man wants. We all pretend there isn’t a list, that there’s no boxes to tick, and mostly we keep that lie up that in the hope that we might one day believe it. Because nobody actually wants to be the person with the check list in one hand and ‘must haves’ in the other. We like to believe we’re open-minded and accepting of one another, when in fact, we’re already ticking or crossing off boxes after the first polite handshake. So as the list looms ever bigger in the background, women transform into the most skilled of contortionists as they begin their gymnastics routine to become the woman that ticks every box. Like Amy says, she is one of the ‘Cool Girls’. They’re the girls who are ‘hot, brilliant, funny women who adore football, poker, dirty jokes, and burping, who plays video games, drinks cheap beer, loves threesomes and anal sex, and jams hot dogs and hamburgers into her mouth …while somehow maintaining a size 2, because Cool Girls are above all, hot.’
The list is endless, contrary and unattainable, yet the pressure to be that woman in today’s world is phenomenal. We’ve reached such a frenzied state of perfection within our media, music and art that women are constantly trying to hit an unrealistic male fantasy. The truth of the matter is, it’s not actually comfortable to sleep in pieces of silk lingerie that look like they have just rolled off the Victoria Secrets catwalk. Sometimes that old t-shirt and those mismatched pyjama bottoms are all you really want for a good night’s sleep, which incidentally, is important to get before carrying out your twelve hour working day. The truth of the matter is, there are many more men who like the idea of a strong woman far more than they like the reality. The truth of the matter is, for a lot of women, even looking at a carbohydrate is a sure way to widen your hips, let alone pizza marathons on the sofa with your man. Sometimes, we too want to be slobs and not care for our appearance or worry that every word that comes out of our mouth is a profound quote that references 16th century philosophical theories but, the real truth of the matter is, that is not considered acceptable. For women, that is not an option.
I have known the women who have given up parts of themselves to please the men they loved. We’ve all done it. We dress it up as compromise. That essential secret ingredient that allows relationships to flourish and grow. But it’s that compromise, that inevitably turns into compromising ourselves that can drive you crazy and we’re left wondering, what have we done to ourselves?
So although Amy Dunne is evil, manipulative and ruthlessly conniving in her attempt to bring her husband to justice, I so appreciated having such a strong female woman on our screens who didn’t have to be a ‘great woman’ with a ‘good heart’, but someone who was breathtakingly intelligent, excitingly dangerous, cunning, imaginative and above all, a strong woman who makes no apologies.