Random Thoughts On the Gone Girl Movie
The latest Gone Girl trailer and the resultant churn around it has been really fascinating to me. “OH MY GOSH – Did Ben Affleck’s new role kill his wife?!”, “He’s being investigated for murder?!”, “Why’d he take this role?”, “Should I read the book and ruin the movie?”, “I can’t wait!”. Etc, etc. Really makes me chuckle.
What they don’t realize is that Gillian Flynn re-wrote a different ending from the book for the screenplay. Did you catch that? The movie ends differently than the book. Hard stop. For those of you who haven’t read the book… that is the end of this blog post for you. Thanks for swinging by. I’m diving into spoilers for you – ie, I’m going down a layer. Go away already.
Great, now that they are gone…
So obviously Nick (Ben Affleck) didn’t kill Amy in the book. Gone girl is such a clever conceit with such an amazing dual premise that I submit to you, the book ending, as dissatisfying ultimately as it is, is the ONLY POSSIBLE ending. Let’s look at the alternatives. But first, we’ll timeline the plot and how it unfolded.
1. Amy tells Nick to go for a walk by the beach
2. Nick goes for a walk by the beach
3. Amy tosses the apartment, dumps blood, and cleans it all up, then runs for it.
4. Nick comes back and calls the police
5. Manhunt begins
6. The diary we have been reading, we realize is fake and is only written to implicate Nick
7. Amy meets some friends at the motel
8. Nick becomes the prime suspect, all kinds of evidence piles up
9. Amy gets her money stolen, runs to old boy friend
10. Nick realizes Amy knew about his affair
11. Amy ends up killing old beaux and returns
12. The police see Amy alive after being “abducted” by old beax
13. Both Amy and Nick are at an impasse…
14. Both live happily ever after, sorta.
Right? So I haven’t read the book in a couple years, so I don’t recall every detail. But that is close enough for our needs. The key detail in the book was the diary. Or the book itself! The diary had to walk the balance of making sense for Nick and also for also for the authorities. It needed to make sense before we realize what is going on, and also after. Right? That is what made Gillian’s writing job so amazing. So, the larger question is, have you even heard that the ending will be changed? Here’s a quote from Entertainment Weekly:
“Ben [Affleck] was so shocked by it,” Fincher said, describing how his star responded to Flynn’s Gone Girl screenplay. “He would say, ‘This is a whole new third act! She literally threw that third act out and started from scratch.’”
In an AMA (Ask Me Anything) on Reddit Gillian tried to contain the rumors that it was so drastically changed. But I guarantee you that when Hollywood got involved they pissed and moaned about the non-Hollywood ending. Right? Of course they did. Amy lives! She gets away with it! That is a huge huge no no in Hollywood. And Ben!? The philanderer? He lives too?! No no no. Everyone has to die. Everyone has sin on their hands, which means, everyone has to die. So, assuming that Hollywood execs have made the standard line known, what are the possibilities for the changes?
Option 1 – Amy dies
Alright, so, the book is ultimately about women’s rights, and responding to philandering husbands. But Amy takes it too far and ends up killing her old beaux and attempting to cover it up, (with a toilet bowl cleaner no less) and that is way way worse than Nick’s screwups. Besides Nick is contrite. He wants to get it right. He’s been trying to make it up to Amy. He ended the relationship on his own. So hey… not so bad! So in this scenario I would predict that it ends the same as the book. EXCEPT, Nick planned her accidental death afterwards. There would have to be hints of this coming before the final scene that we wouldn’t understand until it happens. Simple enough, the audience gets their revenge. Voila. Everyone is happy.
Option 2 – Nick dies
This one is similar to Option 1, except that instead of Amy “accidentally” dying, Amy doesn’t fall for it and she kills Nick. This time she doesn’t need to hide it. She just uses Nick’s subterfuge, ie, his attempt to accidentally kill her, as her excuse. For example, Nick puts a frayed live wire in the kitchen sink from the toaster. Amy sees it, purposefully shorts the house’s power and then walks into the front room where Nick is joyfully dancing, and shoots him. Or what have you. Right?
Option 3 – Everybody Dies & Unhappy Ending
And this option is the same as Option 1 and Option 2, but Amy gets shocked, and survives long enough to see Nick come in and gloat over her body. She shoots him. And as they are both dying they have a pithy dialogue about their subterfuge and disingenuousness. They swear at each other and then die.
Option 4 – Everybody Dies & Happy Ending
Option 3, but instead of them swearing at each other, they apologize and declare their undying love for one another. Possibly the sappiest and grossest option possible.
If you notice on IMDB, the duration of the movie is almost a whopping 2.5 hours. With that being the case, I really do think we have the possibility of just one more final twist on the back end an already twisty book. I also see another justification for making the final twist happen in that so many people have read the book already and know the outcome. Why not give them one more surprise in their Gone Girl experience world?
I personally think that Gillian Flynn is by far the most clever author out there today. She reminds me of Dennis Lehane (Shutter Island), Richard Mason (Drowning People), or S. J. Watson (Before I Go To Sleep), only better. So with that said, since she is so clever