Rosamund Pike: Queen Who Needed a Crowning Achievement

By Daley Wilhelm
            As the rant I’ve prepared revs up, I’d like to first point out that I am in no way saying that Julianne Moore did not deserve the Oscar for the Best Actress in a Leading Role. Still Alice tackled the real, close-to-home issue of Alzheimer’s in a raw way that left audiences reeling. I’m happy for Moore’s first and much-deserved win at the Oscars.
           However, Rosamund Pike was who I had pinned as the supreme being that entirely earned the title of Best Actress in a Leading Role. I say “supreme being” because in Gone Girl, a movie that left audiences in a state of extensional crisis rather than reeling, Pike achieved an inhuman feat. In Gone Girl, Pike played several characters all wrapped up in the sinisterly unassuming form of Amy Elliot-Dunne.
First she made audiences fall for her in the flashbacks throughout the film as she portrayed the Cool Girl Amy, who despaired in the children’s book series about her and led Ben Affleck through adorable, thoughtful scavenger hunts. She was a world apart from what would later be revealed to be the true Amy. The fact that viewers were wholly captured and seduced by this Amy, enough to make audiences roll their suspicious eyes toward Nick (Affleck) and silently hate him for wrecking this once-wonderful woman. She had just been trying her best, but then Nick descended into abusive, adulterous awfulness, leaving her to cope and audiences to glare at the ambivalent, uncaring husband.
Exactly what she wanted from us.
This is where the actress within the actress appears. Pike plays Amy, who is acting as the wronged wife, while in reality the Cool Girl Amy Elliot-Dunne is gone. In her place appears the creature that was beneath the surface all along. Pike flawlessly embodies a sociopath; cold, calculating, determined. She smothers her soul to give life to a character that, with the casual effort of anyone taking on a weekend project, planned her own false murder. The parts of the film that have left the deepest impressions, those that viewers struggle to force from their minds in the dead of night, were those Amy played out alone, often facing a mirror, and unflinchingly brutalizing herself in order to give her alibi credibility. Talk about dedication.
This was a role that the faint of heart could not have borne. Pike not only took on a role that contained multiple characters within itself (not even mentioning the characters she masqueraded as while on the run) but also confidently took on a role nearly unheard of before: the anti-heroine.
In this era of anti-heroes like Walter White, Tony Stark, and Bruce Wayne, audiences seem to love the would-be hero that edges toward the darker path. Altruism has become boring, as it were, and the real blockbusters are movies that push morality to the side and allow baser desires to control their characters. This kind of not-quite-villain that we love is very rarely female. Female villains are in short stock as it is, and are typically thwarted.
Amy is not thwarted. She gets what she wants, and her desire is driven entirely by selfish reasons. She’s a new kind of femme fatale, ethereal rather than red-lipsticked, and quietly, cleverly manipulative in a way that far surpasses the schemes of Walter White.
Rosamund Pike has awards galore for previous performances and especially for Gone Girl, but I believe that she needed to be recognized on a massive scale, like the Oscars, for her achievement of playing Amy Elliot-Dunne. She was the Cool Girl, the anonymous girl, and the unapologetically ruthless girl who got what she wanted in the end, forcibly and by her own means. Personally, I don’t see how she was able to do this without stripping away part of her humanity, just as much as I can’t fathom how the Academy could take their gazes off the specter of her floating on the screen.