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Does the 'Gone Girl' Trailer Make You Think Ben Affleck Killed His Wife?

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Jul 07, 2014 | 2:16pm EDT
 

There’s nothing that the media loves more than a good villain, and unfortunately for Ben Affleck, it seems like it might finally be his turn as the “most hated man in America.” Or, at least, his character in David Fincher’s adaptation of Gone Girl is. The latest trailer for the film highlights the criminal investigation and the media frenzy that Nick Dunne is in the middle of after his wife Amy disappears on their anniversary, and the evidence against him seems to be mounting higher and higher, all of which seems to suggest only one possible solution to Amy’s disappearance: Nick murdered his wife.

Based on the evidence that the trailer reveals – the voice-over of Amy’s diaries repeating her fears about what Nick is capable of, both the media and her parents turning against him, the doubts cast on how genuine he’s being to the people assisting in the search, the cops’ pointed questions – it seems pretty cut and dry that we’re supposed to think that Nick is guilty. But Gone Girl is not a cut and dry story, and the success of the book relies heavily on a twist that is revealed about halfway through. The trailer doesn’t give any of that away, of course, but unlike its source material, it does have an impact on the way we see the events of the film, even before we go into it. The trailer wants us to think that Nick Dunne is guilty, and so even if you find that a little too obvious to believe, it’s still going to be in the back of your mind when you watch them film. If you buy that he’s guilty, you’re going to be looking for things to back you up, and ignore any evidence that raises any suspicion to the contrary. If you believe that there’s more to this story than meets the eye, you’re going to spend the whole time looking for loopholes and clues that point elsewhere.

Gone Girl, Ben Affleck20th Century Fox Film

Unlike with the book, there’s no way to go into Gone Girl impartially, which could affect the impact that the plot’s major twist has on the audience. Moviegoers who are too suspicious may spot it coming, and those who have already made up their minds as to whether or not Nick is guilty could be disappointed or frustrated to find out the truth. Both of these reactions could lessen the impact of the twist or take the audience out of the world of the film, which means that the film might not be as successful on a storytelling level as the novel was.

Releasing a trailer that attempts to convince the audience to see things a certain way before the film arrives in theaters is a risky move.  It practically spells out how audiences should feel about the events they're about to see unfold, and unless there's a good reason to do so (like the twist at the center of Gone Girl) it could sway moviegoers too much, which impacts their enjoyment of the film. If they know how they're supposed to react to things before they're allowed to, it could keep them from forming their own opinion about the characters and story they're watching. Hopefully, the trailer for Gone Girl isn't so persuasive that it doesn't allow audiences room to change their perspectives as more and more gets revealed about all of the characters. After all, if you've already made up your mind about what's going to unfold, what's the point in watching it do so? 

Gone Girl arrives in theaters, along with all of its secrets and answers, on October 3. 

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