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‘Gone Girl': 14 Differences Between the Book and the Movie

Gone Girl movie book differences
20th Century Fox/Crown Publishing

Bestselling author Gillian Flynn may have penned the script for the very first film based on one of her novels — David Fincher‘s ‘Gone Girl‘ — but that doesn’t mean that the writer balked at slicing and dicing her own literary darling. We’ve known for a quite some time (since January, when Fincher’s film was the cover story on Entertainment Weekly, to be precise) that Flynn had changed her own story for the big screen, with a big emphasis placed on mixing around the feature’s third act, but just how many changes can fans of the novel expect to see when the movie hits theaters?

Flynn’s novel can’t have been easy to adapt, as her twisted story of a missing wife (Rosamund Pike) and her maybe-guilty husband (Ben Affleck) hinges so much on narrative techniques that seem more suited to the page, including shifting perspectives and Amy’s written diary entries, but Fincher’s finished feature is fairly faithful to the source material. Still, that third act has certainly been tweaked, and a number of other changes — some minor, some surprisingly major — litter the rest of the feature. Just how many majorly noticeable changes did Flynn pack into her first script? Let’s find out.

SPOILER ALERT: MAJOR SPOILERS FOR BOTH ‘GONE GIRL’ THE BOOK AND ‘GONE GIRL’ THE FILM TO FOLLOW. YOU’VE BEEN WARNED.

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1. Amy’s treasure hunt has been edited down

Don’t despair, Amy’s anniversary treasure hunt is still very much a part of the film’s narrative, but Flynn has whittled it down to keep things moving (and, presumably, to keep most of the action centered in North Carthage). One section of the hunt that’s entirely missing from the film? Nick’s trip to Hannibal, Mark Twain’s birthplace, his former place of teenage employment, and one of the many locations that’s played home to Nick’s affair with Andie (Emily Ratajkowski).

2. There’s less of an emphasis on Andie

In losing the Hannibal section, ‘Gone Girl’ also loses a big chunk of narrative dedicated to Nick and Andie – remember how much of Nick’s trip to Hannibal is spent reminiscing about his visit their with Andie? – and although Ratajkowski’s character’s actions still play a large part in the forward motion of the film’s second act, we barely get to know Andie as a person (and even less about the nature of her relationship with Nick).

3. The homeless of North Carthage are more pronounced

Flynn’s novel includes a trip to the town’s abandoned mall to interview a contingent of homeless people who live there – homeless people that, incidentally, Amy has definitely visited – but we get a greater sense of the town’s down and out in the film. They show up early, presumably meant as a canny bit of misdirection used to trick the viewer into thinking that they really could be the bad guys.

4. Noelle Hawthorne shows up much earlier

The first time we meet Noelle Hawthorne in Flynn’s novel, she surprises Nick at the search party headquarters, all suspicion and questions. In ‘Gone Girl,’ Noelle is on the Dunnes’ lawn on the very first day, running Boney (Kim Dickens) and Gilpin (Patrick Fugit) down for answers. It’s hard to fault Flynn and Fincher for giving us more Noelle, as Casey Wilson’s performance is funny and flinty and weird and gloriously over the top.

5. We see more of Boney and Gilpin’s investigative process

Because Flynn’s novel is told from Nick and Amy’s perspectives, the viewpoint into the story is pretty limited. Fincher’s film blows it outwards to include a hefty number of scenes of Boney and Gilpin working the case, from examining the house to bickering in the police station. Kim Dickens and Patrick Fugit are excellent as the mismatched detectives, though, and even seeing them work through the minutiae of the case is enthralling and amusing.

6. Nick keeps a secret box of important papers

Go (Carrie Coon) calls it his “little box of hate” when she finds it, a New Balance shoebox filled with the kind of stuff Nick doesn’t want anyone to know about, including a copy of the Dunnes’ prenup (something that only Amy talks about in the novel) and a curious letter from the fertility clinic they went to so many months before.

7. Hilary Handy is nowhere to be found

Although the film includes both of Amy’s jilted (and reportedly crazy for her exes) Tommy O’Hara (Scoot McNairy) and Desi Collings (Neil Patrick Harris), there’s no mention of Amy’s female stalker, Hilary Handy. Hilary’s teen obsession with Amy has been entirely excised from the film, making it appear that she only has issues with the men in her life, although the book paints a much more complicated picture.

8. A number of other characters have also been edited down or totally cut

We never get to meet super-lawyer Tanner Bolt’s (Tyler Perry) wife, Betsy Bolt, his partner in life and law. Also cut from the film? Desi’s mom, which removes a big chunk of emotion from the film’s final act. Nick’s dad is there – played by Leonard Kelly-Young – but he appears early and is not seen again.

9. Desi’s house is outfitted with cameras

Desi’s lake house is as secluded and creepy as ever, but Flynn’s script throws in a juicy new twist: it’s also filled with security cameras. Initially afraid of them, Amy soon adapts and uses them to her advantage. Clever girl.

10. We see Amy’s interview with the police

Once Amy returns to North Carthage, Flynn’s novel shares her inevitable interview with the police via transcript. Under Fincher’s hand, the entire thing is dramatized, and the electricity created by putting crafty Amy up against Boney’s questioning is a highlight of the film.

11. Nick doesn’t write a memoir meant to expose Amy’s actions

In fact, much of the film’s final act has been refashioned from what happens in the book. For instance, Nick doesn’t attempt to write a book about what Amy really did in a wild attempt to reveal her true nature to the world. At one point, he does practice a speech about her, but that doesn’t pan out for, well, anyone.

12. Amy doesn’t hold that freezer-held evidence over Nick’s head

The ending of Flynn’s novel centers on the Dunnes building up evidence against each other – Nick has his novel, but Amy has something a touch different. In the book, Amy has stealthily hid a little cup of vomit laced with antifreeze in the couples’ freezer, and she promises to take it to the police if Nick tries to leave her, intent on using a story about him poisoning her – it’s even in her diary! – as a fail-safe measure to ensure he at least gets charged with attempted murder. That doesn’t happen in the movie, but a quick shot inside the freezer’s interior seems to function as a knowing wink at faithful readers.

13. Amy gets pregnant, but we never see her in that state

Flynn’s novel ends with Amy on the cusp of giving birth to her and Nick’s baby, but the narrative of Fincher’s film closes out long before that.

Instead of seeing pregnant Amy, we’re treated to an entirely new sequence: a post-return interview with Ellen Abbott (Missy Pyle), conducted inside the Dunnes’ home for all to enjoy. Still better? The pair uses the interview to announce (on air!) that Amy is pregnant. What a joyful note to end things on.

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