Сrime and Love: Comparing and Contrasting Gone Girl and The Boy Next Door
Love is a complicated phenomenon and can hardly be explained even by those who were lucky to experience it. If people do not understand that it has nothing to do with egoism and selfishness, love will cause problems, make people miserable and can even lead to crimes. Indeed, the line between love and hate is thin and should not be ever crossed. This idea is addressed by two psychological thrillers, Gone Girl and The Boy Next Door. These films bring a deep understanding of what is good and bad and how to distinguish between them. This paper compares and contrasts the two films, revealing the message the producers and actors are trying to convey to viewers.
In the analyzed films, love is shown as a dangerous feeling that can have catastrophic consequences. Gone Girl shows a happy couple, Nick and Amy, who cannot not imagine their lives without each, and the mutation of their feelings to something frightful. In contrast, The Boy Next Door is about affection of a teacher Claire to her student Noah that ended with huge troubles. As the plot unfolds, the characters reveal their personalities and the audience starts to understand their inner worlds and the reasons that made them commit a crime in the name of love.
The films have much in common, from the genre to the main issues raised. The similarities are noticeable form the first minutes of films, e.g. the directors show how the relationships of these two couples evolved at the beginning, and how rejection and betrayal forced them to revenge by the end of the story. Both Amy from Gone Girl and Noah from The Boy Next Door are depicted as desperately in love, trying to manipulate their beloved ones. Amy’s obsession turns into madness as she stages her murder and makes people believe that her husband was a killer. Similarly, Noah intimidated Claire and threatened to reveal to the public that they were secret lovers.
The common feature of both films is that these psychological thrillers present a true human nature. Once one person is rejected by another (Nick cheated on Amy and Claire pretended that was not any love affair between them), the cruel desire of revenge and making the partner suffer appears. In the films, the external factors are paralleled with the internal ones, such as characters’ thoughts and feelings. In Gone Girl, the viewer receives the story from both Nick’s and Amy’s sides, as they tell it themselves. In The Boy Next Door, the viewers are left to judge the characters, as the story is presented from an impartial position. The stories are quite similar, as they raise similar issues, such as love pure and innocent kind of love compared to the mad and selfish one.
✎ The Boy Next Door
In The Boy Next Door it is easy to distinguish the protagonist and the antagonist, while in Gone Girl the plot is more sophisticated. As first it seems that Nick is a bad husband and his wife is almost saint, but later, the situation is turned inside out. Only at the end of the story, the viewer realizes that both of them have their faults and actually they are worth each other. Their love was selfish from the very beginning of their relationships and that is why it has led to such consequences.
As to The Boy Next Door, from the middle of the film it becomes clear that the relationships between Noah and Claire are far from true love. Her feelings were of sensual nature, and he was directed by egoism and desire to prove everybody that he is worth being with such a woman as Claire. These motives of both characters, far from the divine definition of love, led to Claire killing Noah in order to protect her life and family. The notion of soul-searching is more characteristic for The Boy Next Door, as murder is the most dramatic of all means of expression in this case. In Gone Girl, no one’s life has changed even after all the events: Nick and Amy stayed together and continued their life full of desperation, hate and destruction, as at the end of the film Amy informed Nick that she was pregnant.
✎ Gone Girl
The films differ in respect to how love is presented in each of them. In Gone Girl, love was mutual at first, Nick and Amy got married, bought a house and seemed to be happy, but Nick’s unfaithfulness to his wife has awaken Amy’s desire to destroy him. In the other film, Noah seduced Claire as he was secretly in love with her. She allowed him to do that but then rejected him, as she considered that incident to be a big mistake. This felling of rejection and uselessness made Noah blackmail and even try to kill her and her son.
The plot differences, such as the dynamic and elaborate story of Gone Girl versus the rather dull and trivial The Boy Next Door, are the most important ones. It has to be mentioned as well that the relationships in these films are different is respect to their evolvement. Nick and Amy have deep and strong feelings towards each other, and their relationships are meaningful compared to those of Noah and Claire, who are mere lovers and use each other for reaching their own goals. Obviously, Clare was a single divorces woman and she wanted adventure in her love, while Noah was a bad student who needed better grades. The ends of these films differs considerably. However, these differences mostly refer to the surface structure of the film. The plot line and the message that the producers aimed to send through these films are similar.
All in all, the films have much in common in terms of plot, and differ in a way of the plot development. However, the similarities prevail: both films make the viewer think about what is love and how to face it, and show how to spoil relationships. The message of the films can be summed up as the following: one must bear in mind that admitting love is the beginning of self-denial and sacrificing. If these rules are not preserved, the end can be very sad as it is in Nick and Amy’s and Noah and Clair’s cases.