There are approximately three great movies within Gone Girl.
1. The story of Amy Elliott, an exploitation hero who decides that the only response to bearing the weight of silent, systemic patriarchal violence is to become the imaginary villain that women are so often painted as. She invents domestic violence, makes false rape accusations, and convinces the world her husband is an abusive murderer. And we would cheer her on, as these men who think themselves innocent receive punishment for their complicity in horrors so vast and pervasive that they could never understand.
2. The Story of Tanner Bolt, who is Tyler Perry starring in Scandal but without any moral centre. When he's onscreen, the film suddenly becomes aware that it is inherently ridiculous, and is able to derive a perverse sense of pleasure as it finally accepts all behaviour as performance and readies itself for some sort of Liar's War.
3. The story of Margo Dunne.
Instead, Gone Girl is the story of Nick Dunne. He is our only point of view character, with the dual protagonist conceit being given up with the very first shot, with Amy centre frame as Nick monologues: "what's going on inside your head?" Nick is a character, and Amy is a mystery. Bitches, right? How do they work.
The movie builds for two and a half hours towards its central revelation: that marriage can be a breeding ground for resentment and pain. It treats this labored point with profundity, as if this bombshell isn't present in every single Mountain Goats song already.
Which is a shame, because if it wasn't so focused on subverting the perfect marriage (which seemed like hell from the start, is that the kind of marriage straight people idealise?) it would have realised that Margo Dunne's storyline contained all the themes it wanted to explore with so much more pathos and empathy.
She's just a lonely woman whose mother dies and whose idiot brother gets embroiled in a national fucking media phenomenon, a brother she has to stand by while he fucks his student in her own home while those very cameras wait outside. But despite her disgust, she stands by him, for what else can she do: he's the only family that she has.
Margo Dunne is the tragic straightman in this whole affair, trapped in between her cartoonishly boring brother and his cartoonishly 'crazy' wife, forced to watch as her world falls apart and her brother walks away from her and back into the arms of his murderwife. While Gone Girl may not work as a metaphor for marriage, it sure works for a metaphor of watching someone close to you suffer through a bad one.
So godspeed to Margo Dunne, may she one day be free of her Brother's bullshit, may she one day find a better movie in which to have her story told.