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**Warning: Spoilers for both book and movie!**
Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn (2012)
Gone Girl directed by David Fincher (2014)
This book and movie are so polarizing, mainly due to the ending. I kind of like movies and books that have such strong opinions that oppose each other. I would love to hear what your thoughts are on this book and movie and see if you agree with my views on it!
Amy discovers that her husband is cheating on her. Their marriage of four years was pretty rocky, and the fact that he is cheating pushes Amy over the edge. For the next year, Nick continues the affair and continues lying to Amy. While Amy slowly plans her revenge. On their fifth anniversary, Amy goes missing and all evidence points to Nick having murdered her.
Amy is of course alive and well. In the end, Nick knows how to manipulate Amy, using public interviews he knows she will see, to get her to show herself. She reappears, Nick is in the clear, and despite everything, stay together in this toxic relationship.
Also, so many people say that Amy is a sociopath. This isn’t accurate; she is a psychopath. The two have similarities, but a sociopath doesn’t have the patience or discipline to follow through on such an elaborate plan that takes too long to execute. Also I thought an interesting distinction between a male psychopath and a female on is that male psychopaths want to be feared and female psychopaths want to be adored. Which is definitely what she gets in the end. She doesn’t care that he doesn’t love her, she just wants him to do what she wants and to give the right appearance on the outside.
Thoughts on Book
I went into this book already knowing the big reveal that Amy staged the whole thing and is framing Nick. However, that was all I knew, and there was so much more to it than just that one aspect. Basically, right from the start I didn’t like Nick, and that didn’t really change through the course of the book. I maybe felt more sympathy for him as things went along, but I still didn’t like him. I liked Amy to start, yes, her revenge on her cheating husband was very extreme. But it was just kind of a “heck yeah”, a woman getting back at her sexist, cheating husband in a way people in the real world never would. However, her character goes downhill as things progress and by the end, I didn’t like her either.
The ending was a total surprise, and it took me some time to decide what my feelings are on it which is how most readers felt. I’ll get more into my reasoning, but I can officially say that I think it was a great and very fitting end.
The book is well written, but I can’t say I was on the edge of my seat. I did finish it in just a few days though, so it certainly kept my interest. I guess maybe you could say it’s more of a slow burn up until maybe the halfway point. Then things start getting even more interesting.
This script was adapted by Gillian Flynn herself, which I thought was cool. For the most part, it stays close to the novel. It is directed by David Fincher who has directed such movies as Se7en, Fight Club, Zodiac, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, The Social Network, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, and the show Mindhunter. This movie is also his highest grossing domestic box office film!
Ben Affleck is very well cast as Nick. I read that he studied men who were accused of their wife’s murder, in particular Scott Peterson. I actually thought of that case while reading this book, because the wife, Lacey Peterson was also pregnant. I remember watching the news coverage of that back in the day and definitely thinking that the husband did it.
Rosamund Pike is absolutely incredible in this! She was nominated for an Oscar, BAFTA and SAG award but unfortunate didn’t win. She gives such an incredible performance though and her portrayal of Amy has become so iconic.
She also gained and lost 13 pounds for the role. Amy starts out thin, then gains weight when she is incognito and Pike did gain the weight (though I think they also added padding to her stomach). Reese Witherspoon produced the movie, and originally wanted to play Amy, however she withdrew herself, realizing she wasn’t right for the role. And thank goodness! I love Reese Witherspoon, but let’s be honest, she would not have been able to pull off the role of Amy.
Carrie Coon is amazing as Go, Nick’s twin sister. She is one of the few likeable characters and often reflects the readers/audience’s feelings. Coon’s performance at the very end was so powerful and heartbreaking.
Neil Patrick Harris plays Desi. This isn’t how I imagined Desi looking. But I think NPH is great.
Honestly, even though Amy is a psychopath, I was rooting for her up until part three of the book. The book is divided into three sections, and in the first sections we are reading Amy’s fake diary, and think she really is gone. I knew she was still alive and was setting Nick up, so all through this section I was on her side. When the reveal takes place, I was still on her side and still felt little sympathy for Nick. However, in the end, she was just so insane, I wasn’t really rooting for her quite as much. Especially the fact that she is bringing a child into this terrible relationship, just as a pawn in her game with Nick. As messed up as everything else was she had done, involving an innocent child is too far.
In the book and movie, Amy says her bit about ‘the cool girl’. That’s the kind of girl she was pretending to be when she met Nick. She goes on to say how so many women do this, pretend to be this ideal that men want. She then says, “I waited patiently—years—for the pendulum to swing the other way, for men to start reading Jane Austen, learn how to knit, pretend to love cosmos, organize scrapbook parties, and make out with each other while we leer. And then we’d say, Yeah, he’s a Cool Guy. But it never happened. Instead, women across the nation colluded in our degradation! Pretty soon Cool Girl became the standard girl. Men believed she existed—she wasn’t just a dream girl one in a million. Every girl was supposed to be this girl, and if you weren’t, then there was something wrong with you.”
It’s so sad that this is true! Why are girls and women so concerned with men liking them?? I was that way when I was younger, having this ‘cool girl’ personality to an extent, and I didn’t even fully realize I was doing it! Men do this too, to a certain extent. When you start dating someone, most people put up a front and over time reveal themselves fully. Amy of course is on another level; however, I could still relate to this.
Eventually, Amy shows her true self, saying, “So it had to stop. Committing to Nick, feeling safe with Nick, being happy with Nick, made me realize that there was a Real Amy in there, and she was so much better, more interesting and complicated and challenging, than Cool Amy. Nick wanted Cool Amy anyway. Can you imagine, finally showing your true self to your spouse, your soul mate, and having him not like you? So that’s how the hating first began. I’ve thought about this a lot, and that’s where it started, I think.”
The ‘Cool Girl’ can’t last forever, and whether you are a psychopath or not you get to a point where you have to be your true self. Nick basically sucks, so it’s no suprise he didn’t like the real Amy and wanted her to be the one dimensional “cool girl”.
Another line Amy says that I actually really liked was, “I was told love should be unconditional. That’s the rule, everyone says so. But if love has no boundaries, no limits, no conditions, why should anyone try to do the right thing ever?” I believe in having boundries with any relationship. I also believe in being forgiving and kind. But if someone is mistreating you, you should just keep loving them unconditionally.
From the start of the book, I disliked Nick. Then his affair was revealed and I really didn’t like him! When he finds out the truth about Amy, he says something about how, no wonder I got in an affair because I could sense that I was married to a soulless woman. Or something like that. What BS! He is not a good guy and is so self-centered, inconsiderate, and passive aggressive. He resents Amy and her money and takes her for granted. He got in an affair with someone significantly younger, because Andie is still in her own ‘cool girl’ phase and is caught up in this older man who seems so interesting. Go I believe says something about how dumb he is, because eventually Andie is going to mature, and she will no longer be so smitten with him and see him for what he is. Then what? He’ll just move on from her, to a new young, naive woman.
Also, Andie was both less annoying, yet more annoying in the book. We learn more about their relationship and there is time when he says something about the two of them and she says, when you talk about it like that it makes it (their relationship) seem sleazy! Ugh! You are having sex with a married man! It is sleazy! You are sleazy! He is sleazy! Stop being in denial!!
The movie leaves out a lot of backstory with Nick, and he is far more likeable for the most part. I was annoyed by this because it made Amy much more the villain and the audience was left to feel more sympathy for Nick.
The movie also leaves out the storyline with his father. We see him at the police station and hear about how the dad was never around. But we don’t learn how Nick was so worried about becoming the women-hating man his father was. There is a part in the book where he says all women are terrible. He makes no exception, not even for Go. He then almost strangles Amy; however, he stops when he realizes by doing so, he would become what was worst in himself. His father is also always showing up on his doorstep and stressing Nick out. His mom on the otherhand, kind of babied Nick and didn’t expect much from him. Which explains why he stopped trying in his marriage, because he was used to being “loved unconditionally” by his mom. He doesn’t even spend much time with her, which was the whole reason they went back to Missouri. Amy seems to see his mom more than he does.
As the story goes, he does acknowledge the role he played in Amy’s insanity. It reads, “Just as Amy took the credit for making me my best self, I had to take the blame for bringing the madness to bloom in Amy.”
In the movie, Nick shows Go a shoebox he has, full of different things that represent the various things Amy has done that he resents. Go calls it a hate box and Nick says, well maybe I hate her! I thought this was a good way for a movie to show all the negative feelings Nick has for Amy. In the book, we are in his head and that way learn of all his annoyances with her, the movie can’t show it that way, so the shoebox was a good idea, I think.
The book has a line which reads, “I was a callow boy, and then a man, good and bad. Now at last I’m the hero. I am the one to root for in the never-ending war story of our marriage.” The movie has a similar line where he is talking about the public (and the audience watching the movie), “The liked me, then they hate me, now they love me.” In both, we are taken on a bit of a ride on how we feel about Nick. Though in the end we aren’t left loving him or seeing him as the one to root for. At least I wasn’t.
Getting Amy Back
Amy is of course incredibly smart; however, she is also prideful and prideful people can easily bend to flattery. When he is telling Go his plan to say what Amy wants to hear, to get her to come home, he says, “Amy was never a person with any sort of bullshit detector. If you said she looked beautiful, she knew that was a fact. If you said she was brilliant, it wasn’t flattery, it was her due. So yeah, I think a good chunk of her truly believes that if I can only see the error of my ways, of course I’ll be in love with her again. Because why in God’s name wouldn’t I be?”
In the movie and book, he does the Schreiber interview after Andie does the press conference and in both he knocks it out of the park.The book also has an added, impromptu interview he does in a bar which also helps when over the public and Amy.
In both he hires Tanner Bolt as his lawyer and in the movie he is excellently played by Tyler Perry. In the book Bolt’s wife also worked with him and we saw them together. They seem to have a good marriage and I liked that Flynn added that in, so we could see their are good relationships in the world! In the movie, it’s just Tanner.
In the end of both book and movie, they stay together when Amy tells him she is pregnant. As far as the book is concerned though, I don’t really feel for Nick too much. I mean I do; he is living with a murderer whom he doesn’t trust. However, I think even if the baby wasn’t revealed, he would have stayed with her. There is the part where Amy says he wouldn’t be content with a “normal” woman and he is better with her. Then there is this great passage, “As a man, I had been my most impressive when I loved her—and I was my next best self when I hated her. I had known Amy only seven years, but I couldn’t go back to life without her. Because she was right: I couldn’t return to an average life. I’d known it before she’d said a word. I’d already pictured myself with a regular woman—a sweet, normal girl next door—and I’d already pictured telling this regular woman the story of Amy, the lengths she had gone to—to punish me and to return to me. I already pictured this sweet and mediocre girl saying something uninteresting like Oh, nooooo, oh my God, and I already knew part of me would be looking at her and thinking: You’ve never murdered for me. You’ve never framed me. You wouldn’t even know how to begin to do what Amy did. You could never possibly care that much. The indulged mama’s boy in me wouldn’t be able to find peace with this normal woman, and pretty soon she wouldn’t just be normal, she’d be substandard, and then my father’s voice—dumb bitch—would rise up and take it from there.”
This explains so well why people get in and stay in toxic relationships! If Nick were to go to therapy or do some work on himself, then he could grow and become someone who is happy with a normal life. But back when his life with Amy was “normal” he wasn’t even happy! At this point, he admires her, despite also fearing her. And he is hooked on that drama and the extreme emotions she makes him feel.
There is also the part where he says, “the woman knew me cold. Better than anyone in the world, she knew me. All this time I’d thought we were strangers, and it turned out we knew each other intuitively, in our bones, in our blood. It was kind of romantic. Catastrophically romantic.”
By the end, they know each other so well. They have seen each other at their worst. They also have a new level of honesty, if that’s the right word. Maybe a new level of openness is more fitting. However, this is born from the fact that they don’t trust each other at all. When she says she is pregnant, he makes her pee on a pregnancy test in front of him, then takes her to a doctor and is with her when her blood is drawn. Because he doesn’t trust her, her life must be open in a way a normal couple wouldn’t require.
People say Nick is trapped in the end, but really, Amy is trapped too. Nick is her match in so many ways, she knows she can’t go to anyone else because like Nick, she wouldn’t be satisfied with anyone else. If she ever does kill him down the road, I kind of think she would just kill herself right after.
There are also the parts where they both say how they are pretending to be a happy couple, and even though it’s pretend, they have times where is becomes genuine. One part Nick recalls,
“We pretend to be in love, and we do the things we like to do when we’re in love, and it feels almost like love sometimes, because we are so perfectly putting ourselves through the paces. Reviving the muscle memory of early romance. When I forget—I can sometimes briefly forget who my wife is—I actually like hanging out with her. Or the her she is pretending to be. The fact is, my wife is a murderess who is sometimes really fun. May I give one example? One night I flew in lobster like the old days, and she pretended to chase me with it, and I pretended to hide, and then we both at the same time made an Annie Hall joke, and it was so perfect, so the way it was supposed to be, that I had to leave the room for a second. My heart was beating in my ears. I had to repeat my mantra: Amy killed a man, and she will kill you if you are not very, very careful.”
Amy’s high school beau is also more likeable in the movie. Which also bugs me. He was such a creeper in the book! He is a great example of self-proclaimed “good guys” who are just as sexist, they are just in denial about it. When Amy asks him for money when they first meet, it reads, “No, I should be on my own for now. Can I just have a little cash from you?” “What if I say no?” “Then I’ll know your offer to help me isn’t genuine. That you’re like Nick and you just want control over me, however you can get it.” Desi was silent, swallowing his drink with a tight jaw. “That’s a rather monstrous thing to say.” “It’s a rather monstrous way to act.” “I’m not acting that way,” he said. “I’m worried about you.”
Ugh! He literally traps her and when she later asks for money just in case, he gives her $40. The movie also leaves out the fact that he had a bedroom painted her favorite color and a greenhouse room filled with her favorite flower. At least her favorite flower and favorite color when she was in high school. In the world of fiction thrillers, that fact that she kills him didn’t really bother me. He didn’t deserve it, but I didn’t like him so I wasn’t too broken up about it.
In the movie he isn’t too likeable, but not as bad as in the book. The scenes at his place are crazy though. There is a scene weeks before she escapes, where she is laying the groundwork with the video cameras, making it seem like he had raped her, and it is an intense scene. Then, when she later kills him, it is such an intense scene!
In the book, she says when Desi kidnapped her, he put her in his trunk. Boney checks the trunk, thinking they won’t find anything, because she thinks Amy lied. They do find hairs though, and Amy had gotten in the trunk and rolled around in it! She literally thinks of everything. Which, by the way, I loved how the movie showed how meticulous she was with her long list and her calendar.
Another change with Desi, in the book Amy tells her parents and Nick, that when she broke up with him, he broke into her room and got in naked in her bed and tried to overdose on pills, which is of course a lie. When Amy’s dad is talking about Desi, he says how strange he was and seemed controlling of Amy. We later learn that Amy told Desi that her father molested her. Causing there to be tension between Desi and her dad, with her dad not knowing why and assuming Desi was just controlling and weird. Yet another example of how Amy was manipulating and lying to control people.
When Amy is in hiding, she stays at a cheap hotel in the Ozarks where she is eventually robbed which leads he to reach out to Desi. In the book, her time here kind of drags in a way, so I didn’t mind that the movie sped up the events at the hotel. In the book, Amy starts a conversation with the other woman who eventually robs her. In the movie though, the woman is the one who reaches out to Amy.
I liked Boney in both book and movie. Gilpin, her partner had a bigger role in the book whereas in the movie he was just kind of there. The movie has a great scene when Amy comes back from Desi’s and there are a room full of cops asking her questions. The cops are all men and are all buying everything Amy is saying. Boney though, tries interrupting to get more clarification, because she isn’t falling for it. A woman can easily manipulate men in that way, the beautiful damsel in distress who is also great at playing the part. Boney, another woman, sees through it.
The treasure hunt is in both book and movie and I absolutely loved it! There were a few more clues in the book and it was drawn out a bit more, but it was well done in both. In the movie, he is talking about a past clue he couldn’t solve and it was something about when Amy has a cold. In the book, the clue was about when Nick had a cold. I thought this was worth mentioning, because it is once again something that is done to make you side with Nick more. If all her clues are just about her, that makes her seem so self-centered! In the book though, her clues were about the two of them. Nick though doesn’t pay attention to these details, or just doesn’t care, and is bad at solving the clues.
In the book, the first two clues of the last treasure hunt also include very loving notes from Amy. This makes him start feeling all moony about her in a way. The movie leaves these lovey-dovey notes out.
In the movie, talk of a book deal is mentioned. In the book, Amy gets a book deal to write about the whole ordeal, and she titles it Amazing. Her parents have the Amazing Amy book, which is why she chose that title. The book also mentions how her parents book sales have skyrocketed and they too are writing a new Amazing Amy about the ordeal. Once Amy is returned, they don’t even spend time with her, they just rush back to New York. They are two other characters that were much more unlikeable in the book. The movie talks about Amazing Amy and at a book party, Amy tells Nick how messed up the books are and made her feel inferior. The book goes into this even more so. That party in the movie though is when Nick proposes. This didn’t happen in the book, and during that party, I don’t think she was even in contact with Nick. They meet at the party in January. Then she doesn’t see him again till randomly running into him in September. He tells her he lost her number. But once they run into each other again, they start dating seriously.
Upon Amy’s return, Nick also writes his own book about what really happened. Amy hears his typing away and knows what he is doing. When he reveals his finished manuscript, she trumps him by revealing her pregnancy. He then gets rid of the manuscript, because he now sees they will be staying together.
Female and Male
Flynn has been accused of being a misogynist for having evil female characters in her books, but I think it’s misogynistic to think a female character can’t be the villain! I didn’t know I needed a psychopath female character getting revenge on her terrible husband, but I did and I loved it.
As far as Flynn being a mysogynist, she said, “To me, that puts a very, very small window on what feminism is,” she responds. “Is it really only “girl power”, and “you-go-girl”, and empower yourself, and be the best you can be? For me, it’s also the ability to have women who are bad characters … the one thing that really frustrates me is this idea that women are innately good, innately nurturing. In literature, they can be dismissably bad – trampy, vampy, bitchy types – but there’s still a big pushback against the idea that women can be just pragmatically evil, bad and selfish …” Writing on her website, she concedes that hers is “not a particularly flattering portrait of women, [but that’s] fine by me. Isn’t it time to acknowledge the ugly side? I’ve grown quite weary of the spunky heroines, brave rape victims, soul-searching fashionistas that stock so many books. I particularly mourn the lack of female villains.”
Book or Movie
This is a great adaptation without a doubt. My biggest complaint though is a pretty big issue I have with the movie and it’s that it makes Nick, and even Desi, more likeable than they were in the book. I don’t know. It’s not like it’s a bad thing to have them not be so terrible. But when Ink to Film covered this movie, they had writer Rebecca Blake on as a guest and she perfectly explained the difference in the two saying, the book is portrait of bad relationship, the movie is portrait of bad person. And that is ultimately why I like the book better. A story about two unhealthy people in a messed up relationship makes for a better, more intriguing story than one simply about a messed up person. I realize that in the book, Amy is the worse of the two, but Nick is much more her match than movie Nick is.
Having said that, the movie is amazing and clearly very well done all the way around. There are some shocking scenes, so be prepared for that before going into the movie!