In September we tackled Gillian Flynn’s “Gone Girl” for the Literary, Darling Book Club and finished just in time to see the story of Nick and Amy Dunn unravel on screen. I love reading the book right before seeing the movie, if for no other reason than to complain about the terrible adaptation afterwards. But “Gone Girl” holds its own, and Gillian Flynn’s script stays true to the 2012 novel in a satisfying and suspenseful way.
True to the book, the movie jumps between Nick’s narrative and Amy’s journals/storyline before coming together for the final climax. It doesn’t flow quite as well as it does on the page, which is understandable, but I loved the opportunity we had to get inside Amy’s head. The journal entries were my favorite part of the book, and I loved them just as much in the movie. Can we talk about how great the acting was? Because Rosamund Pike’s portrayal of Amy Dunn was near perfect. I was skeptical for the first few minutes because she didn’t pull off Cool Girl Amy as I’d expected, but her calculating, cunning and crazy Amy was spot on. Ben Affleck as Nick was a match made in heaven, honestly. He played up the helpless, deer in the headlights idiot so beautifully, I almost felt bad for him. But only almost.
There were only a few points out of line or missing from the movie, and none of them were important enough for me to really think twice. I missed Nick’s relationship with his dad, watching him turn into this man he resents says a lot about who Nick is as a person, but isn’t super crucial to the story line. The scene where Nick goes to Hannibal in search for the answers to another clue was cut, which was fine by me because this movie was fairly long and tedious (in the best way possible) anyway. The largest discrepancy, as expected, was the ending. I got the impression that Nick was a lot more stuck with Amy once she returns to North Carthage, and while reading the book I felt like him staying was more of a conscious decision on his part. He, Boney and Bolt don’t spend any time poring over Amy’s story in hopes of finding a loophole. Boney has her suspicions, we see that when she interrogates Amy in the hospital, but she and Bolt both bow out before anything can be done. Of course, in both the book and the movie, the deciding factor for Nick staying is the baby. Am I supposed to think he’s a good guy, staying in this insanely toxic relationship to raise a child? Because mostly I just feel really terrible for the kid.
As I said in our book club discussion, the end of the book was anticlimactic for me, and I felt the same way with the movie. I guess they deserve each other, sure. But it’s just over and it seems like a little bit of a cop out. Nick did get the last word in the movie, which he definitely deserves, so that was a bit more satisfying. But they’re back to square one, shouldn’t there be some real repercussions here? The theater was laughing when Amy and Nick drive home from the hospital back into their old life, like nobody could believe that this could actually happen. But, if it doesn’t end with Nick and Amy together, how should it?
And so we come to the age old question, which was better, the movie or the book? While this book to screen adaptation was a great one, I’ve got to say the book was better. The plot unravels in a completely different way in the book, getting inside both Nick and Amy’s heads in a way that you can’t on the big screen. Clocking in at 2 ½ hours, the movie was long enough. In the book you obviously have more time to explore the clues, dig into Amy’s past, see their fights and see their love story, etc. At the end of the day, reading is going to be a different experience, but “Gone Girl” stayed as true to the original narrative as possible.
What did you think, darlings? What’s the best book to movie adaptation you’ve seen? Let us know @litdarling!