Gone Girl: The Most Comprehensive Comparison You’ll Find on the Internet

Andie Woodard

Originally published on Inglorious Fiction, 2014

Gone Girl’s movie release on Friday, October 3rd, has been highly anticipated since the novel made the best-seller list last year. Gillian Flynn, the author of the novel, crafted the screenplay adaptation herself, ensuring that the movie remained true (mostly) to the original plot. I want to explore scene cuts in the movie and whether or not these omissions “worked” for the story. I’m assuming that you’re reading this article because you have either already read or watched Gone Girl and want to determine whether or not it’s worth your time to absorb the story through its alternate medium. (It is; let’s just get that out there. It totally is). That being said, this review will be littered with spoilers. Stop reading at once if you don’t already know what happens.

Now that you’ve been warned, let’s just dive right in, shall we?

1. The Early Romance

In the film, Nick and Amy meet at a party and then—poof!—magically they’re together. However, in the novel, there is an eight month gap between the party scene and their official togetherness. What’s more, the inside joke “just one olive” is left out of the movie, despite its many references in the novel. In the movie, they share a “code,” Nick covering the cleft in his chin to signal “no bullshit.” I actually really appreciate this inclusion because there is mention in the novel that Nick may come off so douche-y because of his villainous-looking chin. Without this new inside joke, there would be no mention, or even possible explanation, for why Nick is so inherently unlikeable.

2. The High Hopes of Amy’s Parents

Amy throws in a few lines about how “Amazing Amy,” the strange protagonist in her parents’ books, is one step ahead of her, better than her in every way, so the viewer could interpret that these books might have given her some kind of inferiority complex, leading to her psychosis as she aged. However, the movie makes no mention about the seven miscarriages her parents had before her. Fearing (with good reason) that each fetus may befall the same fate as its predecessor, they simply named each one “Hope.” Only Amy was truly named, but only after she was actually, no-kidding born. So, not only was she burdened with this responsibility to make up for all the Hopes that were lost, but she is also constantly reminded about her shortcomings through the accomplishments of “Amazing Amy.”

3. Amy’s “Fear” of Blood

In one of Amy’s staged diary entries, she includes a passage about how Nick’s mom—the one whose illness caused them to move states—coerced her into donating blood with her. Amy mentions many times in the entry that she gets very queasy at the sight of blood, but holds her tongue because she’s really trying to get along with Nick’s mom. Well, surprise, surprise, she “faints” after giving blood. This actually happens—as in, Amy actually performs this charade in front of Nick’s mom and records it in her diary to ensure that no one would suspect that she would ever cut herself (not siphon it out like she does in the movie—seriously, where would she even get the equipment to do something like that?), clean up the blood, and then fake her own death.

4. Nick’s Family

Nick’s mom, as mentioned in the preceding point, plays a much larger role in the book. Part of the reason, Nick’s inner monologue reveals, is that his mother babied him so much growing up. BUT: She only did this because his father was such a misogynistic asshole, who cheated on his wife and then abandoned his family. Nick loathes caring for his father once he develops Alzheimer’s for this reason. There’s also much more that goes into Nick’s relationship with Margo (played flawlessly by Carrie Coon) because of all their family drama.

5. The Meeting in the Abandoned Mall

In the movie, Detective Boney and Officer Gilpin visit the abandoned mall to interrogate some druggies about Amy’s disappearance, and the whole thing is a complete non-issue. In the book, however, this scene is packed with suspense: Nick, Rand (Amy’s father), Stucks Buckley (an old high school friend of Nick’s) and one of Stucks’ friends sneak out to the mall with baseball bats as their only protection. Nick kind of only does this though because everyone is scrutinizing his every move, believing he’s “not doing anything” about his wife’s disappearance.

6. Meeting Desi

In the movie, we see Desi for the first time at the volunteer gathering, poorly disguised by a pair of sunglasses. While this is true to the book, the next time we encounter Desi on film is not: Nick meets Desi after he realizes that Amy is alive and staging her own death, but in the book, he confronts Desi before he even finds all that junk in Margo’s shed. Desi invites Nick in, and Nick flat out accuses him of being involved with Amy’s disappearance, basing this belief off of Desi’s history: He “allegedly” tried to kill himself after she dumps him (ahem, in college not boarding school), and then Nick flat out accuses him of having something to do with Amy’s appearance. Desi’s mother, who lives with her son, is home to witness all this. She’s the first in the book to make the suggestion that Amy is the crazy one, not Desi. Flynn does a fantastic job of discrediting her in the book, presenting her as this crazy, over-protective hover-mother, but she isn’t even mention on screen.

7. The Missing Clue

In the book, there are four clues, not just the three mentioned in the film. The second to last clue is actually one that takes Nick all the way out to Hannibal, the place where he had his first job dressing up like Tom Sawyer. This is also one of the places where Nick takes Andie in order to … well, you know. Amy mentions briefly, later in her big-reveal monologue, that on her trip to deliver this clue, she also threw her handbag in the river, making it appear that Nick drove all the way out to Hannibal to dispose of her body. In the film, we see Amy tossing pens out of her car window and into the river, but that’s as close to we get to “hearing” the rest of Amy’s plan.

8. Andie’s Involvement

Nick’s mistress, Andie, is played by Emily Ratajkowski, and, physically, she represents Andie pretty fairly. In dialogue, however, Ratajkowski makes Andie appear to be this whiney, stupid little girl. Andie, in the book, is naïve, but the shrill, vapid tone is missing from Flynn’s pages. What’s more: Nick says in the movie that he is at the beach, drinking coffee, thinking about his marriage on the morning that Amy goes missing. This is what he tells the police in the novel, but this is just a story he invents to hide his affair: He and Andie had actually met that morning, which is why, when Flynn reveals Nick’s infidelity, it really does lead the reader to question Nick’s innocence. Upon Tanner Bolt’s instructions, Nick breaks things off with Andie, which causes her to lash out and physically attack him, biting his lip pretty badly in the process.

9. Greta and Jeff

Lola Kirke does a great job playing Greta, the lost, abused young woman Amy meets while she’s in hiding. It’s hard to say the same thing about Boyd Holbrook, the actor who played Jeff, Greta’s later boyfriend, because he has such little screen-time, a clear contrast between his involvement in the book. Amy first meets Jeff in the book, giving him one name, and then meets Greta, where she introduces herself as Nancy. This name-change is another indicator to these two criminals that Amy is hiding from the police, making her an easy target. Also, Jeff discovers Amy’s large sum of cash while they are on a fishing trip alone together, not at a mini-golf course.

10. Amy’s History of Manipulation

It becomes clear as the film progresses that Amy made up much of what happened between her and Desi Collings. She does accuse Tommy O’Hara of sexually assaulting her in the book, as depicted in the movie, but she later drops all the charges, saving Tommy of having to register as a sex offender. There’s one more character in the book that alludes to Amy’s psychosis as an underclassman in high school: Hilary Handy. After poor Hilary disagrees with Amy about some trivial issue, Amy convinces Hilary to start acting like her, dressing like her—she even gets Hilary to walk up to Amy’s mother, take her hand and profess, “I’m your daughter now.” After all the evidence Amy builds against Hilary, it’s easy for her to claim that Hilary was actually stalking her.

11. Tanner Bolt’s Wife

In the movie, Tanner Bolt was played by Tyler Perry—which, can we just be honest about something? It surprised the hell out of me when he actually turned out to be good in this role. (You’ll have to forgive my skepticism, Madea.) In the book, Bolt is actually a white male, which is why it surprises Nick so much to find out that Bolt’s wife, Betsy, is a classy, confident, beautiful African-American woman. It’s she who drills Nick with questions before his TV interview, throwing jelly beans (not gummy bears) at him every time he says something stupid. Though they cut Betsy’s character, I’m glad that they managed to sneak in a smidgen of diversity into their white-washed film by casting Tyler Perry as Bolt.

12. Nick’s Interview with Rebecca

Shortly after discovering that Amy is setting him up, Nick goes to grab a drink at The Bar. His infamy has sparked an increase in customer turn-out. It’s there that he meets Rebecca, a reporter, who encourages him to give an interview about what he’s really feeling about Amy’s disappearance. His involvement in this interview is the first time we see the general public start to cheer for Nick (before they turn on him again). This scene is hinted at in the movie when Nick finds The Bar packed with youngsters, but Rebecca is missing from the film altogether.

13. The Plot against Desi

In the book, there are no cameras at the lake house, although this adds an interesting component to the plot. We actually get to see Amy mangling her lady parts with a wine bottle and creating calculated markings on her wrists and ankles. Rather than cutting Desi’s throat during faux-passionate intercourse, Amy sleeps with Desi (feigning delicacy), drugs him, and then kills him in his sleep. Call me morbid, but I actually like the movie version of Desi’s death much better than the book’s.

14. Nick’s Manuscript

After Amy returns, Nick tries for several months to find a way to tell his side of the story. In the book, Amy is writing a book about all the terrible things that happened to her under Desi’s imprisonment and how she heroically escaped. (She does this instead of doing the Nancy Grace—uh, I mean, Ellen Abbott interview with Nick.) Nick, in secret, crafts his own manuscript about what really happened in attempt to expose Amy and get his life back. After Amy reveals that she is pregnant, she essentially forces Nick to destroy this manuscript. There is no mention of Nick’s book whatsoever in the movie.

15. The Rest of Amy’s Plan

The movie leaves out the last part of Amy’s freaking genius plan: Amy poisons herself with anti-freeze, throws it up, and then saves it in the freezer, right behind the frozen peas and other once-edible things, and uses it as insurance that Nick won’t leave her or expose her, lest she claim he tried to kill her—for real this time. She really does want their relationship to work though, in some sick way, so she impregnates herself with Nick’s old clinic-semen. Nick eventually throws the poisoned vomit away, but Amy is so comfortable with their relationship now that she doesn’t even worry about it.

16. Nick’s Looming Doom

The movie ends with Nick and Amy announcing to the world on Ellen Abbott that they are with-child. The audience gets this unresolved feeling: Nick is trapped in this relationship… Now what? In the book, Nick’s life has a more immediate threat: Nick does something sweet for Amy, so she says, “My gosh, Nick, why are you so wonderful to me?” hoping he’ll continue playing his role as “Good Husband” and say the right thing. Instead, he answers, “Because I feel sorry for you … Because every morning you wake up and be you.” Amy confesses to the reader that this comment really upset her and that she can’t bring herself to let it go, before abruptly ending the novel. “I just wanted to make sure I had the last word. I think I’ve earned that.”