Loss And Uncertainty Connect ‘Gone Girl’ & ‘Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri’

Posted by Mayank Sharma in Culture-Vulture
February 24, 2018

It’s really weird when two random and unrelated events or things, when viewed at a particular time, appear to be related to each other. Something similar happened this weekend. I saw two films, which had nothing to do with each other in any shape or form, but both of them had one thing in common – Missouri. The two films I saw were – “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” (directed by Martin McDonagh) and “Gone Girl” (directed by David Fincher).

For those who don’t know, Missouri is one of the 50 states of the United States of America.

Like I said in the beginning, the two films have nothing in common at first glance. Both the films came out at different times, “Three Billboards…” in 2017 and “Gone Girl” in 2014. Even the direction styles of Martin McDonagh and David Fincher are vastly different. McDonagh likes to keep things raw and candid, while you realise after watching a Fincher film for the second time (because it’s easy to miss these details the first time) the meticulous planning and detail that have been put into each shot.

“Three Billboards…” tells the story of a mother who comes up with a unique and blunt way to draw the attention of the authorities and the general population of her town towards the brutal rape and murder of her daughter. “Gone Girl”, on the other hand, is about a woman who disappears and the circumstances revolving around her disappearance. In essence, both the films are about loss. In the case of “Three Billboards…”, the loss is real and tangible, while in the case of ‘Gone Girl’, the loss is ‘implied’ (you’ll understand once you watch the films).

But, coming back to the point of intersection between the two film, that is Missouri. In “Three Billboards…”, as the name suggests, the entire story is set in the town of Ebbing (which is in the state of Missouri) and in the case of “Gone Girl”, a couple has to move from their yuppie existence in New York to the husband’s hometown, which is in Missouri. It seems as if Missouri is the place where “shit goes down” (there’s a pun in there somewhere as Missouri is located in the southern part of the US).

I first came to know of Martin McDonagh when I saw his “Seven Psychopaths”. There was something about that name and the type of reviews the film had got that made me want to see it. It’s a story about seven mentally deranged people (each of them deranged in their own special way) and their interconnected lives. It was hilarious and sad at the same time in equal amount. This experience propelled me back to his first feature, “In Bruges”. It’s another dark and hilarious tale about a bunch of ‘bad’ guys. I even found his short film “Six Shooter” on YouTube and when I learned about a new film that was coming out in 2017, I waited in anticipation.

I can’t remember which one of Fincher’s films I saw first, “Seven” or “Fight Club”. But I do remember watching “Fight Club” for the first time and not getting the ending. Edward Norton puts the gun in his mouth, pulls the trigger and Brad Pitt ‘dies’. My reaction was, “Wait what-what the hell just happened?” I love when a film teaches me something new and from “Fight Club”, I learned the meaning of having multiple personalities. Fincher has this way of weaving you in with the story, which forces you to wait for its conclusion. His films are long and dark, literally. The scene in “Seven”, when Morgan Freeman and Brad Pitt wait outside a forensic lab for some test results, just seems too long. But you wait, along with the two detectives, to find out about the results. And that’s what Fincher does – he makes you wait, and in the end, he makes it worth your while.

Now, coming back to Missouri and the curious case of intersection between the two storylines. One more fascinating thread of co-relation between the two films is that of their ending. Both the films end with one thing – uncertainty. And all the principal characters, in both the films, have one thing in common. None of them know what to do next. The situations surrounding them render them helpless. So, the conclusion in both the films isn’t conclusive enough. Both films leave a lot of room for further developments.

To my understanding, an event is considered random when its occurrence can’t be logically explained. But sometimes even the randomness of two events seems to be connected, somehow. Anyway, what if the story of the mother from “Three Billboards…” is connected to the ‘lost and found’ woman of “Gone Girl”?

Now that’s a plot worth considering.