The Witness

‘Gone Girl’ Brings a Cost

Alicia Rollins

The film Gone Girl (2014) —based on a best-selling novel from Gillian Flynn—reminds us of how far gone we may become. The viewer receives a dissection on one couple’s marriage that expounds on the complexity and difficulty therein. One spouse poses the question, “What have we done to each other? What will we do?”

It is a mystery thriller film, and most likely you will walk away from it feeling disturbed with a sense that things are unresolved. The movie doesn’t present the typical settling answer that the viewer would expect. That is not the intention of the film. Gone Girl did resolve—on the note of twisted humanity. One can’t help but think that its goal was to leave you feeling undone a bit. Personally, I was sickened and curled up inside.

Hard to Swallow

After viewing Gone Girl, I noticed my thoughts hanging on some very dark aspects of the film. It simply portrays some awful things.

Without spoiling the movie, I can say it graphically brings up a wide array of issues, including murder, rape, manipulation, sexual immorality, abuse, adultery, betrayal, mental illness, anger, cursing, theft, and idolatry. This isn’t done lightly, either. The story really does lead you through the weight of these conditions. Arguably, this could be seen as one reason Gone Girl is a great film. The movie communicated the story chillingly, transfixing the viewer in the webs of relational convolution—staying true to an unpredictable form.

Still, I can’t recommend this movie to all because of its content—and I still am questioning my own viewing. I would urge anyone considering it to first read some extensive reviews. Yet, if you happen to see it, I can say that it will possibly floor you with repugnant truth of the world we live in—a dreadful world. The Bible describes the sinful human condition after the Fall with many different narratives that are not too different from some of the circumstances played out in Gone Girl. 

The Seed of Every Sin

The dark demise of the characters in this film also reminded me of a recent description I read of humanity’s sin. It is true that some people are more sinful than others, but we are all lost. There are no degrees to lostness. In an exposition of Romans, Tim Keller offers a helpful illustration:

“Imagine three people try to swim from Hawaii to Japan. One cannot swim at all; he sinks as soon as he gets out of his depth. The next is a weak swimmer; he flounders for sixty feet before drowning. The third is a championship swimmer and swims strongly for a long time. But after thirty miles he is struggling; after forty he is sinking; after fifty miles he drowns. Is one more drowned than the others? No! It doesn’t matter at all which swam further; none were anywhere near Japan, and each ends as dead as the others. In the same way, the religious person may trust in morality and the pagan indulge in sensuality, and neither comes close to a righteous heart. They are equally lost, equally condemned to perish.”

And equally gone. We “alike are all under sin” (Rom. 3:9b). This should give us great pause. When we feel the twinge of revulsion that is aroused by movies like Gone Girl, we should be reminded of the seriousness of any sin we may be dealing with. All sin is treasonous toward our loving God and pleasurable for the insane devil. “In my heart is the seed of every sin,” wrote Robert Murray Mc’Cheyne—a minister in the 1800’s. We should be addressing sin seriously, and Gone Girl takes us down to the depths of human depravity to shock us with such seriousness.

The Price of Restoration

We may also remember that there is a “price of restoration” in any narrative—including our own. Flannery O’Connor, who is considered one of America’s greatest fiction writers and one of the strongest apologists for Roman Catholicism in the twentieth century, writes:

“There is something in us as story-tellers, and as listeners to stories, that demands the redemptive act, that demands that what falls at least be offered the chance of restoration. The reader of today looks for this motion, and rightly so, but he has forgotten the cost of it. His sense of evil is deluded or lacking altogether, and so he has forgotten the price of restoration. He has forgotten the price of truth, even in fiction.”

What O’Connor is explaining is the dynamic necessary to truly recognize any restorative work. She argues against readers who do not like to see fiction that entertains and depicts sin. She knows the true darker side of humanity is necessary to really understand restoration. She might have asked, “How can I write a story without the rough reality of humanity? Some people want only the positive truth, but they forget that it comes by a price.” By definition, a restoration assumes a need to be restored. We know that we cannot understand redemption without counting the cost. We see an example of this cost painfully noted in Gone Girl.

This movie shows the costly ways in which the human heart can drive us into sin. I am also going further to say that it depicts things that could be happening in our heart right now, even if only a “seed.” Most of us would like to respond with, “No way!” But as we saw in Romans, Scripture describes our hearts in a very dark and twisted way without Christ. 

How Far Gone We Can Become

I am typically an empathetic movie viewer, so this all made for a film that I could not walk away from without feeling affected. I felt solemn, repulsed, and troubled. This may sound silly, but afterwards, I felt inclined to cling to my Bible and sing laments and praises to the God of hope. And I did. It’s almost as if I wanted to run to the safety of Christ’s promises when faced with these things, because they represent something real and close to all of us. Gone Girl is a graphic depiction of real problems today.

In the future, I hope to facilitate discussion on where the line should be when experiencing sin and depravity depicted in and through art. I would love to hear your thoughts. I, personally, would be hard pressed to urge anyone to watch this film in its entirety. But for today, I can say the following to you.

I watched this story without really knowing what I would be seeing. I found out that the movie, Gone Girl, presents an opportunity to reflect on the reality of how far gone the human heart and mind can go. The director creates a brilliantly compelling work that has an array of complexities and subjects we could converse over. Further, I also hope you can see the movie for what it is—dreadful. Gone Girl excellently images a little piece of hell when left to our own vices. Yet, I hope it sparks a series of thoughts that lead to relief in Christ and a call to action for our mission in this world.




5 thoughts on “‘Gone Girl’ Brings a Cost

  1. Tiribulus (Greg)

    This is not complicated.

    If it would be sin for you or your family members to “perform” it, then it IS sin for you to pay God’s money to your unsaved neighbors, whom you are commanded to love as yourself, to do it for you in the name of some pagan notion of “art.”

    It is not a matter conscience or liberty and it’s not different for everybody. That is post modern perversion smuggled into the church by highbrow worldlings who have made careers out of rationalizing what was a no brainier for previous generations of actually biblically literate Christians.

    If it would be sin for myself or my wife or children to “perform” it, it IS sin for me to pay my unsaved neighbors, whom I am commanded to love as myself, to do it for me.

    Fast forwarding or hiding your eyes is only legitimate if your husband of wife wouldn’t mind if it we’re you doing that scene with that man or woman in-front of a room full of strangers as long as some people hid their eyes while watching it.

    What’s even worse is the horrific abuse of the names of God and Christ and the XXX profane language. Somehow it’s ok in today’s church as long as it’s in a movie or tv show.

    OHHHHHHH ,we do not wanna hear this in the apostate, morally degenerate, world loving American church do we?

    I don’t know how many times during the 50 Shades debacle, I stuck somebody’s face in their own movie and tv likes after they were all indignant and outraged at one movie while their likes had others even worse.

    “oh, but that’s “art” and doesn’t portray sin positively and it has a culturally relevant redemptive theme” is always the answer. That’s not the BIBLICAL standard though. The BIBLICAL standard is what I said above. It’s simple and universally binding on everybody for all time. It is not a subject In any way of the so oft mutilated liberty passages. (I have heard absolutely EVERY argument. )

    If it would be sin for myself or my wife or children to “perform” it, it IS sin for me to pay my unsaved neighbors, whom I am commanded to love as myself, to do it for me.

    Men, we are the heads of our families. This will go extra rough on us.

    The next time you set something before your ears and eyes that violates that principle, you ARE in sin. Repent. If you attempt the impossible, which would be to biblically refute this principle, then you are rationalizing away the Word of almighty God. Repent. If you think that God would bless your family’s performance In these productions, you need to get saved. Do it today. Repent.

  2. Alicia Rollins

    Hey Renee, this is a great question. I have heard that drawing lines is a matter of conscience, context, and maturity. I think you would really appreciate this resource. Check it out!

  3. Renee

    My question is, if the Word of God speaks of adultery, David and Bathsheba, the rape of one of his daughters by his son, the behavior of Lot’s daughters toward their father, the men of Sodom who wanted to take the angels for themselves, we see the man in Corinth who slept with his father’s wife we see the depravity of mankind we see what our own hearts are capable of. Why is it considered art to view this in movies or in novels. We know why God tells us of these things in His Word, 2Timothy 3:17. I probably don’t understand the definition of art. But I think in our earlier language art was defined as something to be appreciated.

  4. Alicia Rollins

    Thanks for sharing. Yes, those are definitely good questions! Important for sure. There is a lot that could be said and elaborated on. One immediate inclination would be to flee temptation, not “fight” it in the sort of instance you mentioned. Since usually we are in control of watching a movie or reading a novel, it seems best to flee what you know would present temptation. The average day has enough circumstances that pop-up, flash by, or pursue us without adding on more on our own accord. What are your initial thoughts? Would you agree?

  5. Stacey

    Thank you for this post. I would also like a discussion on where the line should be when experiencing sin and depravity depicted in and through art. That is a question that I struggled with as a new believer (when I threw out almost all of my movies) and continue to struggle with, even though I understand Christian liberty and not being a stumbling block to weaker brothers and sisters. I haven’t had cable for 7 years, but still watch movies and so still struggle with sin being depicted in art, is it a good thing for Christians to view so we can understand reality, or should we flee from darkness? The Bible talks about all the sins we see around us, but it doesn’t graphically depict them in a way that could tempt a believer to sin, like movies and novels do visually and mentally.

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