[Warning: This article discusses spoilers!!]
David Fincher’s brilliant Gone Girl is a sinister pas de deux between a husband and wife trapped in a self-destructive relationship of cataclysmic proportions. After framing her husband Nick Dunne (Ben Affleck) for her murder after discovering his infidelity with a college student, Amy Dunne (Rosamund Pike) changes her identity and disappears into the countryside to gloat from afar at his crucifixion at the hands of the police and the news media. But after several devastating mishaps and Nick’s unexpected galvanization in the public eye after a news interview manages to sway popular opinion in his defense, she reappears in front of a legion of reporters and claims that she was kidnapped, imprisoned, and raped by a mentally unstable former boyfriend (whom she murdered).
The film ends with Nick and Amy trapped in a stalemate: she has so perfectly covered her tracks that if Nick went public with the truth about her actions she could have him arrested, imprisoned, and potentially executed on Death Row. This tenuous armistice stretches the audience’s suspension of disbelief for three reasons, which are troublesome but not necessarily damning.
1) It assumes that Amy managed to spend several weeks in her ex-boyfriend’s expensive home without being caught on his elaborate security camera system despite the fact that it is never implied that she altered or deleted the tapes (or even knew how).
2) It depends on Detective Rhonda Boney (Kim Dickens), a local investigator into the Dunne case who had been depicted throughout the entire film as a determined and competent officer, submissively rolling over and abandoning the case despite having full knowledge of Amy’s true actions.
3) It would mean that Nick’s outspoken and headstrong twin sister Margo (Carrie Coon) would timidly stand by and let a sociopathic murderess continue to live with him.
Again, these conditions are certainly implausible, but they are crucially not impossible. There is, however, one detail in Amy’s scheme that could potentially destroy her efforts and guarantee her a place on Death Row: her diary.
Forged by Amy as a record of their deteriorating marriage that paints Nick as a dangerous, uncontrollable egomaniac prone to sudden fits of violence, it is the key to her ruination. To explain why, I sat down with Albert Lyter, III, the President and Chief Scientific Officer of Federal Forensics Associates, Inc. for a brief interview on the subject of the diary. Lyter has worked as a forensic chemist for numerous federal agencies, including the U.S. Treasury Department and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms.
TheYoungFolks: Okay, thank you very much for agreeing to talk with us. I’m here to talk to you today about a movie called GONE GIRL, the new David Fincher film starring Ben Affleck. The film is a thriller and it involves a wife who forges a diary in order to frame her husband for murder. The diary supposedly covered a period of five years, but it was written in the span of either a few days or a few weeks. It was written with ink pens. After finishing it, she put it in a furnace and partially burned it to make it seem like the husband tried and failed to destroy it. First off, would it be possible for forensic investigators to determine the relative age of the writing based on the ink?
Lyter: Well, when you say “relative age” that has a specific meaning to those of us who do this kind of testing. So I would say that the methodology that would be most appropriate would be to identify the make and model of the ink. And then from that you could determine the commercial availability of the materials. In addition, there are testing methodologies that can be used to look at how the ink has changed over time. And that would give you some feel for whether the ink writing that was supposedly done at the beginning of the time period was similar or different to the ink writing done at the end of the five year time period.
TYF: So they would be able to confirm or deny whether or not the diary was forged based on this kind of testing?
Lyter: Yes, you would.
TYF: Would the diary being partially burned in any way affect these findings?
Lyter: It would depend on the degree to which the ink had been deteriorated from the heat. There’s going to be some areas in the diary that more than likely are going to be useable and other areas that will not.
TYF: Would this evidence be admissible in court?
Lyter: It would be, yes.
Considering that it was only partially singed and the majority of its pages were largely intact, it is a fair assumption that if brought to trial, Amy Dunne’s diary could be proven a fake. And from there, Amy would have nowhere to go but down, down, down, down.
For more information about Albert Lyter and Federal Forensic Associates, Inc., visit their website at http://www.inkdating.com/index.htm.