There is a through line that can be traced from Strindberg’s Miss Julie, via Fatal Attraction (Glen Close is said to have taken the role because she was desperate to stop playing ‘good girls’), and David Mamet’s Oleanna, all the way to Gone Girl. These stories have more to link them than a warped woman at their core. They present a world that pretends to be ours but nurses a huge lie.
The really insidious side of this is the niggling feeling that playwrights are buying off brilliant actresses with substantial central roles, in order to co-opt their presence and conviction to push a vile agenda. That agenda is always that once you start allowing women any kind of sexual autonomy, or god forbid, believing what they say, civilisation will crumble.
Gone Girl and Oleanna have the most in common here, because they both pretend to represent the real world, but include scenes that could only take place in a bizarre fantasy parallel land – one in which a woman’s account of being raped is accepted uncritically. I’ve never seen it pointed out how utterly nonsensical the final scene of Oleanna is. As if a young woman can waltz into a police station, say a respected man raped her, and have them go ahead and charge him with a crime. What does Mamet think happens after a woman makes such a complaint? Does he think the police pat her hand, make her a cup of tea, and then proceed with the arrest?
–Orlando on the limited dramatic roles for women.