Gone Girl: harmony is sooo last season

21st October 2014

Gilian Flynn pronounces her first name with a hard G. That’s GILLIE-an, not JILLY-an. Ms Flynn is no softie.

In 2012 she wrote a book for the moment. Gone Girl is full of layers, surprises, misdirects, seething anger, poor judgment, bitter relationships and masks. It weaves a rough, uncomfortable thread into the fabric of popular culture, awash with tales of opposites: good and evil, triumph or disaster.

David Fincher’s movie is a sharp, perhaps even more accomplished telling of the Gone Girl story.

On its first weekend, it pipped the movie Anabelle into the Box Office top spot in the USA. It did even better in Ireland, with 215% more box office takings than its nearest rival.

Gone Girl has something to tell us.

But what?

‘It won’t win the Best Picture Oscar’, mused one commentator on Empire Magzine’s Podcast dissection of the movie. ‘It’s a relentlessly cynical look at coupling and relationships’.

I’m not so sure. My view is that Gone Girl, for all of its pulpy, exaggerated psychosis, gets to the heart of some human relationships. It is this uneven-ness that creates such visceral connection.

Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro is one of the great works of art in Western Civilisation. It too treats the story of a relationship that has become distant, bitter, despairing – but Herr Mozart chooses to express the fissures through comedy.

In the case of Figaro, Count Almaviva actually apologises in public to his wronged wife, and all members of his court agree that life becomes more beautiful when it is peaceful. We, the audience, know full well that this Count will be up to his old shenanigans before very long. There is something delicious and tragic in that knowledge.

Gillian and Amadeus. I’m guessing neither would expect their works to be easily compared. And yet, the narratives that truly connect with our lives are often archetypal. The differences are mostly superficial – a matter of packaging: wrapped in racy prose or transcendent melodies. Take your pick.

Brands, at their best, are vessels of nuanced promises. In their own way, they commune with their consumers; their narratives may even become works of art, over time.

What then, if some brands were to set out not to distract us from our reality, but rather to help us understand our reality better? What if they painted life bittersweet, without perfection.

Ah yes, I’d pay a bit more for that. Happy endings are for softies.

Pass the popcorn.

© Brian McIntyre 2014


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