Out of nowhere came Gillian Flynn, with her clever, tricksy thriller than manipulates everyone from the reader to the principal male protagonist. The film, safe in David Fincher's hands, gave us a genuinely sociopathic female lead (it would have been a movie crime had the female protagonist been given the traditional Hollywood female eunuch makeover).
How often does that happen? Answer: not very. Someone in California has already written - ahem - A Study of Psychopathy in the Heteronormative
Patriarchal Occult, comparing Kubrick's Eyes Wide Shut with Fincher's Gone Girl, suggesting that both films depict dysfunctional marriages that can only be fixed by ritualistic blood letting. (It's on Twitter, if you're interested).
Bad females in movies fall into the narrowest of categories. There's the stereotypical psycho bitch whom we cannot take seriously because she's a one dimensional lunatic - think Bette Davis in Baby Jane, or Kathy Bates in Misery. Cate Blanchett's Jasmin in Woody Allen's Blue Jasmin was an appalling character, but she had something of a drink problem, as did the Joan Crawford portrayed in Mommy Dearest.
Even Nurse Rached in One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest, despite such a terrifying soft-spoken shark-eyed portrayal, was simplistically nasty. An easy-to-hate bitch, nothing more.
Scan the rest of female movie villains and the result is predictable, boring and depressing: they are all flatpack 'Top Ten Sexiest Female Baddies', generally characters out of Bond movies who are dispatched down the adult Bad Egg Chute in much the same manner as Verucca Salt and Violent Beauregard (I am aware that Violent exploded rather than went down the chute, but you know what I mean - when a female movie character strays outside of the confines of nurturing, well behaved, or self sacrificing, she gets it in the neck).
The only decent female baddies are in Disney films. There, they abound.
Wicked stepmothers, evil queens, fairies gone to the dark side, they are the kind of females that can scare small children witless. So where are the proper lady baddies for grown ups? Nowhere.
Just disposable psychos who always get killed off, never 'win', and are always supplanted by the 'good girl.'
Not in Gone Girl. Here we have a female character who is clever, manipulative, ruthless, meticulous, unsentimental, sociopathic.
Bog standard stuff for a male lead, outrageous for a female. And then all the guff about the movie being unfeminist or misogynist or whatever. How often in Hollywood movies do female leads run the show - and run rings around - the male characters?
Here are what some feminist ladies on Twitter say about Amy Dunne, the Rosamund Pike character: "A female anti-hero challenging the male gaze";
"Ran the show completely - no-one's foil"; "Brilliantly evil." How wonderful to have a proper baddie in possession of ovaries, not testicles.
How refreshing to wince and shudder at the actions of a female character. More please.
More bad women in films - represent us as more than just sexual decoration, or nurturers. Or you'll be sorry.