For most of my life, I have never really fancied horror films too much as I’m a loud and proud, self-admitting “scaredy cat” but in recent years, I have been gaining a deep appreciation for the films that mess with your mind, aka, psychological thrillers. Black Swan, Misery, Nocturnal Animals, Ex Machina, Psycho, you get the picture. I guess, given my examples, you can say I love the ones with strong female characters too. #girlpower
To set the mood for my favorite disturbing thriller character of all time, Amy Dunne, watch the infamous “Cool Girl” monologue from Gone Girl (2014) and prepare to be blown away.
YES, She did that. Rosamund Pike really just did THAT. How she didn’t win the Oscar for this role I will never understand. She blew me away with this role, really sinking into the depth of this character to the point where I was actually afraid of her.
However, am I crazy that I can actually sympathize with Amy, a literal murderous sociopath, in this movie? When I first watched this film, especially this specific scene…
Everything. Made. Absolute. Sense.
I finally understood why she had to do what she did despite the fact that she literally faked her own murder in order to frame her cheating husband. Ben Affleck’s character, Nick Dunne, sucks. He’s the worst type of man out there; the one who falls in love with what he seems to believe is the Manic Pixie Dream Girl but slowly molds her into this “cool girl” persona that he expects to stay that way and evidently falls in love with that and not who she really is.
Although Amy is a completely insane sociopath, she has a point. She saw through the bullshit system that continues to deny women the construct of an authentic identity, which is why this monologue is celebrated by almost every woman who has watched it. Every girl I know can admit that at one point she was “cool girl” or strived to be “cool girl”. If you want to win over a man, you NEED to be a “cool girl”.
“Cool girl. Men always use that, don’t they? As their defining compliment. She’s a cool girl. Cool girl is hot. Cool girl is game. Cool girl is fun. Cool girl never gets angry at her man. She only smiles in a chagrin, loving manner. And then presents her mouth for fucking. She likes what he likes. So evidently, he’s a vinyl hipster who loves fetish manga. If he likes “Girls Gone Wild”, she’s a mall babe who talks football and endures buffalo wings at Hooters.”
Amy’s point in this entire monologue is that the female identity is largely cultivated based on what men fetish. (That is, if I’m solely referring to heterosexual male-female relationships, I have no idea if the LGBTQ community can relate but I assume maybe to an extent?). Women, throughout all of time and history, may have experienced some kind of intense existential crisis when we fully realize that we have transformed ourselves based on the media representations on what is considered “attractive” by the opposite sex or whatever niche trend is going around that time. This monologue states the truth that a lot of young girls and women being indoctrinated by the “cool girl” social pressure. They are willing victims and participants. They play the game because they want to be liked, admired and the object of envy. Amy, unfortunately, gave into that at the beginning of her and Nick’s relationship.
“When I met Nick Dunne, I knew he wanted ‘cool girl’. And for him, I’ll admit, I was willing to try. I wax-stripped my pussy, raw. I drank canned beer, watching Adam Sandler movies. I ate cold pizza and remained a size 2. I blew him, semi-regularly. I lived in the moment. I was fucking game.”
I cannot tell you how many times I’ve watched this scene and I didn’t say “YASSSS SIS”. I wanted to side with her. I know she’s a psycho but now I get why she’s so angry. Nick ruined her. He ruined the woman she was meant to be. After time goes on in their marriage, he and Amy soon resent each other. Because she was molded into the “cool girl” he fell for. Then, Nick got bored. He dumps his beloved “cool girl” wife and moves onto the next “cool girl”. But Amy wanted revenge, serious revenge. Obviously, she clearly went too far with the revenge, sis could’ve just left him and moved on like a normal minded human. But hey, if my mediocre husband makes me leave my life and move out of the big city to boring middle America suburbia and THEN has an affair, I’d be salty too.
“Nick teased things out of me I didn’t know existed. A lightness, a humor, an ease. But I made him smarter, sharper. I inspired him to rise to my level. I forged the man of my dreams. We were happy pretending to be other people. We were the happiest couple we knew. And whats the point of being together if you’re not the happiest? But Nick got lazy. He became someone I didn’t agree to marry. He actually expected me to love him unconditionally. Then he dragged me, penniless to the navel of this great country. And found himself a newer, younger, bouncier, cool girl. You think I let him destroy me and end up happier than ever? No fucking way. He doesn’t get to win.”
However, I do find myself wondering. Looking back on Amy’s “cool girl” act that she put on for Nick throughout the entirety of their relationship, who was she exactly? For me, Amy Dunne is one of the few terrifying antagonists that speaks the truth. Hannibal Lector or the Joker just to name a few but with this monologue, Amy falls directly into that category. That’s what makes those villains so alluring because we can’t ignore what they’re saying is true, despite the crimes they’ve committed. This entire film is a satire about the real idiots of our modern world: the idiot husband, the local idiot next door, the other idiotic “cool girls”, the idiot detective, the idiot naive ex-boyfriend and idiot gullible mass audience quick to jump to conclusions based on what they see and hear on TV. Amy tricked them all.