If film noir’s context was the post-war period, Gone Girl‘s is another one: the end of the economic (and evidently moral) crisis. No Job, No Money and Now, No Wife, that’s how Manohla Dargis entitled her review of Gone Girl for The New York Times. Bou referred to noir’s femme fatale this way: “These liberated women, these essential goddesses of luxurious sanctuaries devoted to leisure and corruption, prefer to be with men whom, far from the battlefield, become rich thanks to war’s losses. Linked in this way to depraved masters, they are used to attract affable victims. But the femme fatale soon learns the language of seduction and, as perverse as men or even more so, starts using it for her own purposes and dreams about getting rid of her exploiting husband: this is the case of Rita Hayworth in The Lady of Shanghai and of Lizabeth Scott in Cul-se-sac.” In the case of Amy, seduction hasn’t got to do only with the physical side, with beauty, but also with the intellectual side, due to Amy’s need to make Nick continually feel that they are made for each other, that they are equal. Her evilness is revealed both in relation to marriage as to her surroundings (in the film, the main character’s plan is befriending ‘the local idiot’). If the destiny of film noir heroes is eminently tragic, there’s nothing more frightening than what awaits Nick at the end of Gone Girl, trapped in the nest of his marriage, condemned to living with a wife that almost has him seated on the electric chair.
Flynn usually spices her stories up with banal but repulsive details, like the woman in Sharp Objects who gets out of the shower and uses a blanket to dry her body instead of a towel. Her characters are essentially unpleasant. The trick is similar to the one used in The Girl on the Train, Paula Hawkins’ best seller, in which one of the voices corresponds to an alcoholic and resentful woman. How to empathise or sympathise with these women? In Dark Places, probably her most limited novel, Flynn takes this idea to the extreme. The protagonist survived a massacre that put an end to the life of her eldest sisters and her mother, leaving her, the youngest one, the role of the victim, and her brother, the killer’s one. However, after the massacre, the girl grows up expecting to earn a living through the returns that the tragedy will bring. At a point in the novel, she remembers her aunt, who took care of her after her family died: “the following years, I bumped her car twice, broke her nose twice, stole and sold her credit cards and killed her dog.” That’s what Flynn’s characters are like, and that’s what the forerunners of perversely brilliant Amy Dunne are like.