People who write about gender politics have wildly differing opinions on Amy: some see her as a blisteringly alive, sickly fascinating character who’s both a monstrous manipulator and a brilliant commentator, particularly on gender politics in relationships. Others see her as, by the end, a cartoon, living down to every silly idea about women as naturally devious shrews who arrange pregnancies to get their own way and pretend they have been abused when they have not.
What has always kept Amy from troubling me in this particular sense is that she does the things she does not because they are in her nature as a woman, but because they are in her nature as a psychopath. One of the problems with the relative paucity of interesting female characters is that they become responsible for representing all women, for speaking to What Women Are Like. The more scantly represented any demographic group is, the more each person seems to reflect upon everyone. But here, it has always been perfectly clear that Amy is an aberration. She is a woman, but she is not only a woman. She is also a monster, and the second half of Fincher’s film is, in many ways, a horror movie about the great difficulty — and eventually the impossibility — of defeating her. She is the rare monster in a monster movie who wins at the end. Whatever she has to do, however offensive, however distasteful, however horrifying. Whatever.
It is in Amy’s specific, defined character that she will do anything. She is that smart, that angry, and that unfettered by conscience. It would not be realistic to suggest that she, given the person she is made out to be, would not do these things, would not think of these things. It is not her lack of conscience or her ruthlessness that is gendered; it is the way she expresses those things as a result of her very much gendered life. Amy’s pathology plays out in the fields of marriage and childbirth because that is where she sees herself having a chance to attain power. That’s where the high stakes are, and a person as angry and intelligent as Amy knows how to locate the highest possible stakes.