Gone Girl was a best-selling book and is sure to be a highly successful film. Both have generated a lot of tension and discussion from book groups, film buffs and any one interested in dissecting toxic marriage of Nick and Amy or watching a taut thriller about two pretty unsavory people. For people who read the Gone Girl book and now are seeing the movie, it is no surprise that parts are now gone; the surprise may be which ones.
The author, Gillian Flynn, a former Entertainment Weekly writer, wrote the onscreen adaptation of the book. While many writers who adapt their own book for the screen hold tight to every nuance, others rethink their plot contrivances and even endings. Distance and perspective sometimes makes them consider alternatives that may have been overlooked, discarded or never considered. (Heck, even J.K. Rowling has admitted she wishes she did not have Hermione wind up with Ron in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.) There is also chance to pare out items or characters that are not needed to keep the pace moving and film under two hours.
Some of the changes made in bringing the printed Gone Girl to the screen do get rid of extraneous bits. However, others – like the ending – are major. Here are some of the key plot differences between the two (spoiler alert!):
- There is a pivotal scene in the book in which Nick gives a drunken interview to a blogger named Rebecca. The video interview goes viral and sways public opinion back in his favor. The entire scenario is missing from the movie.
- In the novel, Amy publicly pretends to be afraid of blood and needles before privately slicing her arm with a box cutter (which seemed extreme even for Amy) to set up the “crime scene.” In the movie, she uses an IV to drain and spill her blood on the floor.
- In many movies, and television shows, it is amazing how many characters do not have parents or family members that rush to their sides to help. Flynn’s novel showed both sets of parents and their impact on Nick and Amy growing up and in their marriage. However, the parents are pared down to much smaller characters.
- Nick and Amy’s father find out about Amy’s attempt to buy a gun by visiting the squatters at the abandoned mall in the novel. Nick gripes that he had to do find it out himself, not the police. Well, in the film, it is the detectives that conduct that part of the investigation.
- The treasure hunt clues are reduced to three without the extraneous complimentary notes. Depicting written material or having a character read aloud does not always translate well on film. So Nick only has three locations to hunt for clues onscreen, versus five in print, and does not get flattering missives with them.
- Andie and Nick do not have an onscreen breakup scene. In the book, the scene is a catalyst for Andie to publicly reveal their affair in a press conference. In the film, Andie holds the press conference, but it seems to come out of nowhere.
- Hilary Handy, an old high school friend of Amy’s, is the one who first clues Nick in about his wife’s deceitful and sadistic behavior in the book. Surprisingly, she is not in the movie. (Maybe the scene got cut and will show up on the DVD.)
- In print, Desi is drugged him before Amy slashing his throat after intercourse. In the movie, she gruesomely kills him mid-sex with a lot of blood spilling all over.
- The ending and facts presented are largely the same. Amy returns, is pregnant via Nick’s sperm bank deposit, and the not-so-lovely or loving couple actually remain together to torture each other in perpetuity. There are little bits different about the ending on film or on print. The film has them on national TV for a follow-up interview and this is where the real pregnancy is revealed. The interview accomplishes neatly what many books fail to do. It pulls all the pieces together about two people who clearly were never happy ever after and will not ever be.
Flynn has said that she wanted her book, and the film ultimately, to be about “marriage told as a he-said, she-said story, and told by two narrators who were perhaps not to be trusted. That goal was reached. The key thing about both the movie and the book is that Gone Girl is disturbing and different as a thriller, with a female as the “psychotic bad guy” and no really likable characters, except maybe Nick’s sister.
By Dyanne Weiss