Amazing Amy Dunne, The Decision Not To Write About My Amazing Girls, and Gone Girl (The Book and The Movie)

A few years ago I was watching my daughter Katy and thinking about all the things she was doing that were kind of amazing. She has Down syndrome, and that made me watch her from early on and goggle at how much every child, typical or developmentally delayed, goes through for every milestone, and how we don’t see really appreciate those little steps.  When you’re watching a developmentally delayed child you start to understand how many steps it takes for a baby to turn over, sit up, crawl, stand up, walk . . .  all those milestones our typical kids do without breaking them down into smaller steps. When you have a developmentally delayed child, you watch for the smaller micro-milestones, building up to the regular milestones. And you watch as your child takes them on just like any other child, but just a little slower. I like to think that Katy took more time to appreciate every micro-milestone and every smile we bestowed upon her along the way.

Sitting up, about 9 months.

Katy was, and is, very strong. Not metaphorically, but muscle-y strong. When she was born I was told that babies and kids with DS have low muscle tone and she would be slow to develop. They were so wrong. Katy was a little slow, but not too much, in the milestone department. Her sister walked at 13 months, Katy walked at 15. She took awhile to sit up, but I think it was because her arms were short. She crawled on time, and rolled over on time. She was way ahead of the DS curve. Of course, it could have been that she was hell-bent on keeping up with her big sister, who is only 15 months older.

Rockstar Katy.

At that time, I wanted to share my amazing child with the world. I had a set of books planned–Katy Can. I was going to tell all the things that Katy Can do, like Katy Can DanceKaty Can SwimKaty Can Have a Birthday–you get it. I started taking pictures and planning the whole thing.

I also thought about a book about my girls as sisters. Libby is amazingly patient (most of the time) with her sister, and she is Katy’s hero. Watching them grow up so close in age has been a wonder.

But then I stopped. Yes, the life of raising two young girls got in the way. But I really started to think about it and what it would mean if these books did take off. Katy would be the source of our income, and instead of watching her out of love I would be watching her for the next book. Her achievements would become fodder for the world. And what would happen if her achievements weren’t quite good enough? I might be tempted to make things up. To make her more of an achiever. And I didn’t want Libby to be labeled as just Katy’s Sister, the patient angel (because she is not. Or not always.)

I didn’t like the thought of exploiting my girl. Now, don’t get me wrong. I will tell you all about her and the funny, incredible things she does. But that’s because I want to share her with the world. She’s funny, strong, imaginative, and personable. (She’s also emotional and lies about things, but we’re working on those). She’s my girl, and I want her to stay my girl. I don’t want the world to take her, I don’t want her sister to resent her. I want her to be as 1978691_10203442020592577_230633538_nnormal as possible.

And then, a couple of years ago, I read Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl and started comparing Amazing Amy to Katy. And I decided I made the right decision. Not that I thought that Katy would become a narcissistic borderline sociopath, but she may become a self absorbed girl who demands attention (although she already does that, a bit).The thought of ‘Amazing Amy’ and what she became is the thinking that went into why I don’t want my girls to become characters of themselves in a book, or books, about Katy.

And I think I made the right decision.

(And yes, I get the irony of me writing about her, plugging in pics and talking about how I don’t want to exploit her. But I just want to show her off a bit here. I want to show off both of my incredible girls. So irony be damned.)

Now, about Gone Girl the book and the Gone Girl movie. The book was a total page turner, and I recommended it to anyone and everyone I came across. Gillian Flynn is a wonder, and her other books (Dark Places and Sharp Objects) are also incredible page turners. She must have a dark and suspicious part of her soul, because she knows how to tell a psychological tale without much comfort or redemption. But I LOVE them, and IGone-Girl-Poster wait for her next one (I have no idea when that will be, but I can hope it will be sooner rather than later).

WARNING!!!! Slight spoilers ahead. If you’ve read the book but not seen the movie, you will be fine. If you’ve read or seen neither, read at your own risk!!!

We went to see the movie on the first day of release, and it was worth it. I am rarely like movies as much as the book, and, even when I like the movie, I’m sad about what was left out (thinking of the Harry Potter books and movies). This one left me with none of that (if anything, it ran a little long). I had hope right at the beginning when I saw Gillian Flynn wrote the screenplay. That always makes a big difference.

Ben Affleck does a great job as the slightly clueless, slightly narcissistic Nick Dunne. He plays it perfectly, trying to charm his way out of any sign of trouble, caught up in his need to be polite (as every good child of the Midwest is taught), his need to please, his need to be polite. These are Ben Affleck’s strengths, the reason we all still go to see him even though he hasn’t been great in awhile. We like him, he charms us. He is perfect for Nick Dunne (and now I have hope for Batman).

Rosamund Pike does a wonderfully psychotic job as “Amazing” Amy Elliot-Dunne. She shines, making us believe in beginning, and then switching gears really well. I have seen her in other things, but she’s been a pretty side dish who seemed to have promise. Here she lives up to that promise. She is perfect.

The supporting actors are also really good. Neil Patrick Harris does a great job as the stalker/savior/jailer/scapegoat. We’ve seen him do other things, otherwise he might seem wooden, but as Desi Collings, this is perfect. Desi is as psychotic as Amy, but he is outmatched by her cunning and brains, and he is blinded by his obsession of her.

Carrie Coon is brilliant as Nick Dunne’s twin sister Margo (Go). She is caustic and sarcastic, and seems to get Margo well. I LOVED Tyler Perry as the brilliant defense lawyer Tanner Bolt. He’s funny and believable.

My favorite supporting character, though, is Kim Dickens as Detective Rhonda Boney. I’ve always liked her (she was great in Deadwood  and Lost), and she does a great job as the lead detective in the disappearance of Amy Dunne. She’s believable and real, sort of falling for Nick and not quick to believe the hype. She’s a great character, and Dickens does a great job.

My recommendation? Go see it! It’s great. Read the book or don’t read the book, it’ll be good. And if you’ve read the book, you won’t be disappointed. It is that rare, elusive wonder; a movie that lives up to the book.

I give it 4.5 out of 5 stars.


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