Book vs Movie: Gone Girl

I read Gone Girl when I was on vacation in California two years ago and I remember thinking at that time that it would make such a great movie. Gillian Flynn’s writing is really cinematic, enough so that you can actually see the scenes playing out in your mind while you read the book. From what I remember of her other books, she has a knack for that type of writing.

I recently watched David Fincher’s film adaptation of Gone Girl. While I came away feeling slightly underwhelmed, overall I was pretty impressed at how much of the book they kept in the movie. The format was pretty much the same, and the back story as well (I thought for sure they’d lose the whole Amazing Amy thing). A friend of mine, who also read the book, agreed with me that the thing that was a little disappointing about seeing the movie after you’ve read the book was that once you know all its twists, turns, and sucker-punch shockers, the story actually isn’t all that exciting. I kind of envied my husband who had that WTF reaction about midway through the movie that I had when reading the book.

Some of the major differences between the two are pretty minor, all things considered. Some characters who are pretty important in the book, such as Amy’s parents and Nicks’ father, have relatively small parts in the film, but I didn’t think it affected the story at all. That famous “cool girl” speech was in the movie and only slightly changed. But the part that I felt suffered from the cuts made in the move version was the entire Desi plot line. In the book that story and how she regains his trust, not to mention everything to do with his mother, builds to a more believable relationship between the two of them. And when Amy does decide to kill him it’s much less dramatic.

One thing that remains constant between the movie and book audience is the strong reaction to the ending. I’ve heard some people say that the ending ruined the entire book for them. It made them angry. It made them confused. But I actually liked the ending, of both the movie and the book. I don’t need an ending to tie up nicely, and I like when I have questions that aren’t answered. So I can appreciate what Gillian Flynn had to say about why she wrote the ending for Gone Girl the way she did:

“It was the only thing that made sense to me, that made sense to what was true to the book and true to the characters. Amy’s not going to end up in jail. She’s Amazing Amy! You’re never going to find the “aha!” clue because she thinks she’s already thought of everything and that’s who she is. People think they would find that satisfying, if she were caught and punished. You know, when I’m at a reading or something, people will come up to me and are very honest about saying, “I hated the ending!” I always say, “Well, what did you want to have happen?” And it’s like, “I wanted justice!” I promise you, I just don’t think you’d find it satisfying for Amy to end up in a prison cell just sitting in a little box.”

Whether you like the ending or not, Gone Girl is a more enjoyable book than it is a movie. Some of the more graphic scenes from the book played out really nicely on the screen though, like when Amy spills her own blood all over the kitchen floor. That type of moment is just more powerful on screen. But for me, nothing beats the experience of furiously turning the pages of a book, desperately trying to figure out what the hell is going to happen next. A movie can’t mimic that sense of urgency, even with a killer Reznor-Ross soundtrack.

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