Recently we watched Gone Girl starring Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike, which is based on the book of the same name. Having heard some positive things about it, we decided to watch it, never really anticipating what a roller-coaster thriller it was. It was such a cleverly written plot and cleverly put together. It manipulated the way you felt about the two main characters, just as Ben Affleck’s character was being manipulated. It made you question what was real and what was not. The storyline got very dark and went to a place I never imagined it would go to. It starts as a mystery (a missing wife and a suspicious husband—this felt familiar), then becomes a thriller (the wife is not all she seems, and is she setting up the husband for the death penalty?), and finally by the end, you realise it is also satire (about marriage). A clever and unnerving film.
What was interesting was the way the film spoke about how we play parts in our life. Are we ever really genuine? Who is the real you? Can you really be content with a life that is a fantasy, so long as the people around you all play along with it? Do you need to be genuine to be alive/happy?
It made me realise that we pretend all the time. Or rather, we play a part and behave in different ways with different people. The person we are at work with our work colleagues is not the same person we are at home. Nor is the person we are with our parents, or our siblings, or our friends. The differences may be subtle, but we are not quite the same. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, our relationship with the different people in our lives is different, we would not be a good employee, a good wife, a good daughter, a good sister, a good friend, if we behaved the same way with everyone. But I think we can still be genuine in all of this. It isn’t a lie when you speak in a professional manner to a client on the phone, just like it isn’t when you sit at home with your family and enjoy a sunday roast together. You’re still there, perhaps its better to call it a different facet of yourself.
What I think is also interesting (which the film also refers to) is the way we force other people to project who we want to be onto ourselves. E.g. Pike’s character forces Affleck’s to play along with her fantasy, thereby allowing her to be the lie/fantasy that she wants to be. Have you had someone in your life who is all bravado and strength, and you are intimated and feel uncool and unsure in comparison, so you try to be cooler and more nonchalant—thereby allowing and reinforcing that other person to be the facade they wished to present. I hadn’t really understood this before.