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Which GONE GIRL Is Better? The Book Or The Film?

There have been a lot of articles comparing the differences between the book and film version of Gone Girl, the runaway bestseller by Gillian Flynn. Sure, some characters are missing from David Fincher‘s film adaptation (which Flynn provided the screenplay for), but does that make the film worse than the movie? It’s the biggest question with a high-profile adaptation. Is it as good as the book? In the case of Gone Girl, a film that rarely veers far from the source material, the answer is yes.

 Gone Girl

Some parts of the film are even better than the book. Both versions of Gone Girl are dark, twisted takes on modern marriage. It didn’t become apparent, at least until seeing the film, how funny Gone Girl is. It’s difficult for humor to across on the page, but seeing Nick (Ben Affleck) whisper to his wife Amy (Rosamund Pike) that she’s a f——g b—h in front of a gaggle of reporters is hilarious visually. On the page, it just seemed like a nice little f-you. Nick’s sister Margo (Carrie Coon) was pretty funny in the novel, but she steals the scene in the movie.

The film also does a better job of laying the groundwork for that shocking twist at the end. Maybe I missed it while reading the book (and trying to figure out what was going on, who was lying, etc.), but there were maybe only one or two instances of subtle foreshadowing. With Fincher’s adaptation, anyone with a clue to what’s going on can kind of figure it out. What’s so interesting about it — regardless of anyone’s opinion on that twist — is at least in the novel it felt earned. Some readers may have felt cheated, but it was undeniable Flynn deserved credit for an out-of-nowhere ending that really wasn’t that out-of-nowhere after all. In the movie, it’s just kind of another turn in a series of them. Without giving anything away, it feels like a last gasp effort. But, giving something away…

Gone Girl

**SPOILER ALERT***

The film does a better job than the novel of making it very, very clear that these two terrible people, the adulterer and the sociopathic murderer, deserve each other beyond a shadow of a doubt. More so, they want to be together.

***END SPOILER ALERT***

gone girl

The Gone Girl film definitely amps up the violence, especially in the second half. A lot of women were unhappy with the way Fincher depicted the rape scene in The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, claiming it to be misogynistic. With the way Amy gets slapped around in Gone Girl, those complaints aren’t likely to go away any time soon. Also, one of the more jarring differences between the book and the film concerns…

gone girl

 

***SPOILER ALERT***

The murder of Desi Collings (Neil Patrick Harris). Not that the killing isn’t brutal in the book, but it’s much more so in the film. It’s almost as if Amy gets off on the murder. The whole thing just felt… weird.

***END SPOILER ALERT***

Gone Girl

The best part about the Gone Girl adaptation is it can stand on its own two feet for viewers unfamiliar with the source material. That can’t be said for something like Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, which is full of plot holes for the uninitiated (full disclosure: It’s my favorite Potter film next to Deathly Hallows, Part 2). Fincher’s cold, detached style of filmmaking is perfectly suited for the material, and the movie ranks as one of his best, though he’ll be hard-pressed to ever do something as amazing as Zodiac. Affleck has never been better, and Pike, as Amy, proves she can be more than just a supporting character.

The Gone Girl novel is for those who want to get inside the heads of Nick and Amy, and become engrossed in all of the twists and turns in the plot. The film is more streamlined, but is equally enjoyable, with its superb direction and performances. I personally prefer the novel, but Gone Girl is one of the rare instances where you can’t go wrong either way.

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The Author

Ryan Hill

Ryan Hill

Ryan Hill used to spend his time writing screenplays into a notebook instead of doing homework. That love of film and all things storytelling led him to spend most of his time writing. He's been a film critic in North Carolina for over five years, and his debut novel, THE BOOK OF BART, is out now. Please buy it. Ryan also feels odd about referring to himself in the third person.