Ben Affleck comes home one day to find his wife, Rosamund Pike, has vanished. There are a few signs of a struggle, though nothing terrible … at first. But when the police start in with their luminol and other CSI techniques, it begins to seem that a murder might have been clumsily covered up. As the days go by, more and more little things seem to point to Ben having killed his wife. Since she was the basis for best-selling, beloved children’s books written by her parents, the Amazing Amy series, the whole country quickly gets involved. The usual disgusting, yammering, brain-dead infestation of “journalists” camps out on his street. His performance at press conferences is deemed insufficiently heart-broken. And, in fact, he has something to hide. He has been having an affair with a much younger woman, one of his students.
The country decides he is guilty, helped along by a TV commentator who is doing everything but tying the noose around his neck herself. It could not be more obvious that this disgusting bitch is Nancy Grace in all her awful self-righteous bombast. In a media world overflowing with contemptible people, she might very well be the worst. With only a slightly more strict reading of the slander laws, this human carcinoma would be out on the streets, penniless, selling her ass to anyone with standards that low. She has destroyed the reputations of numerous people who turned out to be innocent and, so far as I know, has never once apologized for it. At least two people committed suicide as the result of her venom. There are few people in the world I hold in as much contempt as Nancy Grace.
And at this point I must issue a SPOILER WARNING. Don’t read any further if you don’t want to know the reversal, and the ending.
Halfway through we discover that Amy has very carefully faked her own death in such a manner as to point the finger at Ben. We get many flashbacks to their early fairy-tale courtship and marriage, and entries in her diary, entries which she made up, intending that it would be found, chronicling an escalating series of incidents and ending with the sentence “I think he might kill me.”
Her plans go awry when she is robbed of her stash and has to turn to a very rich man, Neil Patrick Harris, who has been obsessed with her for years and willingly becomes her sex slave. And here’s where it gets really diabolical. She slashes his throat while fucking him, bathes in his blood, and then drives home to make a dramatic re-appearance before the TV cameras, a vision of Carrie in her prom dress. Man, the lady knows how to make great TV!
Ben has been onto her game for a long time … but now seems helpless to expose America’s Kidnapped Darling in all her horror. And she’s pregnant! With his sperm, which she got from the samples they had stored earlier! Even harder now to expose her!
By now we are oozing toward the horrific end. She is as bad a character as I have seen in a movie in a long time. And you know what? Hollywood never really needed the Hayes Office to decree that evil must be punished in the last reel. We want people like this to be punished, we demand it. We’re okay with Butch and Sundance getting away with robbery, but if Glenn Close got away with stewing that little bunny rabbit, we would have howled our protest.
But Amy gets away with it! Ben, showing himself in dire need of a testicle transplant (maybe Bruce Jenner could donate a pair; he won’t be needing them), decides to spend the next twenty years sleeping next to a psychopathic murderess, for the sake of his yet-unborn child. And I will frankly admit, it left me with a sour taste in my mouth. I don’t mind rascals getting away with crimes, even murder (if the varmint needed killin’), but to see pure evil go unpunished in fiction is profoundly unsettling. We tell each other stories, most of us, to pretend that there is some moral order in the universe. Of course, there isn’t (the universe doesn’t care), but we like to pretend there is.
So how do I explain the huge success of this movie? Three things, I guess. One is the popularity of David Fincher as a director. He has a reputation of dark endings (the psychopath got his way in Se7en, forcing Brad Pitt to kill him by decapitating Pitt’s wife … and I never really warmed to that movie because of that ending). There is also the meticulous, relentless, step-by-step explication of her dastardly plan, and the script and direction in general, which are excellent. And then maybe there’s the novelty factor. Every once in a while we might need to see that it’s not all happily ever after in fiction, as in real life. For whatever reasons, this is an excellent movie … and one that I will never see again.