Interesting Facts About Gone Girl - Few films are quite so hard to discuss - let alone critically assess - without recourse to talking about their twists as Gone Girl. That's why we've chosen David Fincher's film to kick off a new series offering a forum for free discussion by those who've already seen the film. (click here to see full picture)
At the start of the year, Gillian Flynn reported that she'd written a new ending for her screenplay, apparently at the request of David Fincher, who'd been disappointed by returns on his faithful version of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Fans were variously elated and concerned by Flynn's glee at having shattered the careful structure of the novel in order to reassemble it for film. Further suggestions as to the radical nature of the change were offered by Ben Affleck , who said: "This is a whole new third act! She literally threw that third act out and started from scratch." So you'd be forgiven for wondering what all the fuss was about. The main ingredients in the ending - Amy kills Desi, returns, is believed by the police and taken in by Nick, then gets pregnant using his frozen sperm, forcing him into not divorcing her - remain exactly the same. The biggest change is that rather than each of them writing a memoir (and Nick being persuaded to delete his), rather Nick's escape is prevented after Amy reveals the pregnancy just before they must appear as apparently happy parents-to-be on the Ellen Abbott TV show.
Anger and violenceThe climax of the film is therefore the penultimate scene in which Nick turns, in part, into the very wife-beater of Amy's fictional diaries, as news of the pregnancy leads him to bash her head against the wall. In the book, he has much more vivid fantasies of harming her, and when he does turn against her physically, it's a more aggressive strangle. Nick's misogynistic father looms larger in the book; likewise Nick's fears of turning into him. And his father's invective against women, repeatedly calling Amy a "fucking cunt" are mostly omitted from the film. Instead, much of the force of the penultimate scene comes from Nick and Amy chucking the c-word at one another.
Desi's mother and Amy's interrogation
One wholescale casualty of the transfer is Desi's mother, who hates Amy for having framed her son much earlier on and then causes a stink at the police station after his murder. Instead, her skepticism is deferred to Detective Boney, who's more aggressively questioning of Amy in the interrogation than in the book. The movie heightens the sense that Amy's crying of sexual assault is an especially effective trump card with the male detective in the room. (The impact of Amy's first false rape claim is amplified for the film: in the book, she eventually drops the charge, but in the movie her victim must forever identify himself as a sexual offender.)
Desi's mother was presumably trimmed for time, but it leaves the film notably light on sympathetic women. Boney and Go aside, Amy's mother fares badly, likewise the neighbour, Nick's groupies and Greta - who, the film is keen to emphasise, eggs Jeff on to rob Amy. Rebecca the sympathetic blogger is also missing in action. Stand by on Monday for a full comment piece on Gone Girl and women.
Desi, drama and third act plotholes
Reinstating Desi's mother might have also raised too many questions about the plausibility of the police swallowing Amy's story. Fincher's Panic Room-ish showcasing of the CCTV kit at the lakehouse makes you wonder if Desi wouldn't have had an alibi for the morning of the abduction. Surely security footage would have showed he was home?
The whole third act is played for psychodrama rather than the neat realism of the novel (take, for instance, the much more violent nature of Desi's death). Its cinematic chutzpah carries you along; viewed cold, it would be easy to spot plotholes.
Team Amy or Team Nick?
Though Rosamund Pike goes full Kathy Bates towards the end, Amy's previous crimes (first rape case aside) are toned down. Gone is the girl (Hilary Handy) Amy framed for stalking. Gone, too, the early break in Nick and Amy's relationship, which lead to Amy's festering feelings about men. It's replaced instead with a fairly straightforward meet-cute courtship topped by the proposal at the book launch (which in the book exists mostly to show how awful Amy's parents are). Likewise, we never learn in the film that Amy actually went so far as to poison herself with antifreeze to frame Nick, nor to freeze her vomit.
Nick meanwhile is altogether more sympathetic - or at least more docile - in the movie than the book. On the day of the murder, for instance, he does go to the beach on Amy's instruction, while in the novel he meets his mistress and reads magazines. His relationship with Andie, too, appears to be more at her instigation than his, and while their breakup in the book is ugly, in the film it's barely there.
Are these changes correct, and which others did you notice? Were such trims and tweaks inevitable, or did they disappoint?