This may be one of the few examples where the movie is actually better than the book. But don’t get any crazy ideas; because the book is absolutely amazing to read and should be highly recommended to anyone and everyone above the age of 16. To actually see everything take action in the film is absolutely brilliant.
First of all, where the hell did Rosamund Pike come from?! She took the traditional “psycho bitch” character to the next level and made a lot of women look pretty damn sane considering the tone of the story. Ben Affleck was a complete, yet satisfying, surprise for the leading male role. Sometimes you get a little hesitant when big-name actors take on an important role from a book. As a reader you picture them as a unique character incomparable to anybody you already know. With Ben Affleck being affiliated with so many other roles, readers might feel like the character in the book would’ve been diluted or misrepresented. But he was perfect for the role of Nick Dunne; the right amount of “asshole” with a splash of hotness. Audiences couldn’t have asked for a better story or for a better cast.
Be forewarned that SPOILERS are definitely ahead for both the book and the movie.
Let’s start with 4 Pleasant Surprises…
4. Inside Jokes
In the movie, the inside jokes that are bounced around between Amy and Nick are cute, but they come back later in the story and play an important role as to how everything pans out.
The first night they meet, Amy tells Nick that there is something about his chin that makes him untrustworthy. So whenever he is trying to show that he isn’t bullshitting her, Nick covers up his chin. It’s a quirky little inside joke they have that really makes them more relatable as a couple. This comes back around when Nick is being interviewed on live TV hoping that Amy is watching. As he is expressing his love for Amy and how much he just wants her to return home, he quickly skims his fingers over his chin and hovers long enough to give the hidden message to Amy. It is executed perfectly because it draws her straight into his trap.
There is also a little moment where he brushes off her bottom lip before he kisses her in a sugar cloud that she then always remembers as a sweet gesture that only Nick does. When Nick starts dating Andie, Amy sees them coming out of the bar without them knowing and he quick swipes the bottom of Andie’s lip before kissing her. This is the trigger that sparks Amy’s desire for revenge and is the moment when she starts plotting against Nick.
Near the end of the book, Amy quickly recaps when she told Nick that his chin makes him untrustworthy. When he makes the gesture during the interview, it coaxes her to trust that he genuinely wants her back. Even though it is mentioned in the book, the movie made it more fun and actually seemed like a big part of the story.
3. Nick is Actually Good at the Clues
Amy would always do these treasure hunts for Nick on their anniversary to bring him to locations that she thought were memorable within the past year. It was a tradition her Dad used to do for her Mom, so she wanted to keep the tradition going with Nick.
In the book, Nick was never good at Amy’s treasure hunts from the very beginning. He never remembered the same moments she did and could never figure out what was going on in that mind of hers.
In the movie, there was a refreshing twist that Nick was actually really good at Amy’s treasure hunts. They were so deeply connected with each other in the beginning that their second anniversary treasure hunt ended with them giving each other the same present! The reason why this was a nice change was because as Amy started hating Nick and vise versa, Nick started creating this “Box of Hate,” for Amy and it included a clue that Amy created that he just couldn’t figure out. It was another way of Amy putting him down. Not knowing only one of the clues became more of resentment then if he knew he was never good at them.
2. Engagement Scene
In the book, there is a party for the new “Amazing Amy” book that her parents released. It is a particularly depressing party for Amy because she is single and the latest book is about “Amazing Amy marrying Able Andy.” All these journalists want to interview her and see how she feels about Amazing Amy succeeding in life while she is still single. She is sad the whole party until she finally leaves.
In the movie, Amy and Nick are dating when they go to the latest “Amazing Amy” book release party. “Amazing Amy is marrying Able Andy” and journalist start to interview her just like in the book. But in the movie Nick comes over pretending to also be a journalist interviewing her and after a lot of playful banter, including Nick declaring Amy has a “world class vagina”, he then proposes to her right there in a perfect moment.
1. Desi’s Lake House
In the movie, once Amy arrives at Desi’s, he explains that there are cameras everywhere so no one can get in, but what he really means is she can’t get out.
After figuring out where cameras are located, Amy very meticulously starts using the surveillance to her advantage. One day when Desi is about to leave she kisses him, bites his lip so it bleeds, and then tussles up his shirt saying; “that is how the kids wear it these days.” Little does he know when he walks outside the camera captures him looking very disheveled. Amy quickly acts on her feet; she dips her dress in some red juice, crawls to a window that has a camera fixed on it, and then starts acting like she was just brutally raped by reacting to the red stain on her dress as though it was blood.
All very thorough and very insane, but that is only the beginning to her madness. She ends up slashing his throat with a box cutter right after they had sex, which leads to blood on her for a defense story and semen in her to clear her rape story.
In the book, she also slits his throat but that’s after she drugged him and he was passed out. The movie made it so more brutal and graphic and it was absolutely amazingly crazy and disturbing to watch.
Now it’s time for the 4 Utter Disappointments…
4. Desi’s Mom
In the book, Desi’s mom (Jacqueline) was an interesting character to the Gone Girl story. When Nick went over to talk to Desi, he actually invited Nick in to chat and express his worry for Amy. But what Nick wasn’t expecting was Desi’s mom to enter the room and her appearance was a little disturbing. Jacqueline bears a striking resemblance to Amy and it makes you wonder how messed up of a character Desi actually is. Let’s just say Freud would have had a field day with him.
As expected, Jacqueline and Amy didn’t really get along. They fought over Desi’s attention and Amy even scratched up her own face once and told Desi that his mom attacked her. This was just another one of Amy’s crazy tricks that ended up with Desi not talking to his mom for months. So you could expect that when Jacqueline found out that Desi was murdered by Amy that she came charging into the police station claiming that Desi would have never done such a thing. She tried to throw a wrench in the whole investigation, but Amazing Amy wasn’t going to let that happen.
Amy stayed the apple of the public’s eye and viewers never know what becomes of Desi’s mom. Maybe that’s why she didn’t make the cut for the movie.
Neil Patrick Harris portrayed Desi beautifully. He had the right amount of obsessive, possessive, controlling, and jealous characteristics. In the book though Desi’s character was way more complex.
Desi only dated girls who were broken. Whether it be anorexic, suicidal, or had a damaging childhood; that was Desi’s type. That is why Amy was so appealing to him. In High School Amy lied to Desi saying that her father raped her as a child and that’s why Desi initially became obsessed with her. So when Amy reached out to him about keeping her hidden from her abusive and violent husband, well… how was a man like Desi supposed to resist. He thrives on this sh*t.
Amy initially thought she could control Desi but she realized quickly that he was way more possessive than anyone could imagine. He basically told Amy that if she left he was going to rat her out; so she was stuck with him. It got even creepier though. When Amy arrived at the mountain house Desi gave her the tour and showed her that the walls in her room were painted her favorite color (dusty rose) and that the greenhouse was full of her favorite flower (tulips). Since it had only been 24 hours since she called him to the rescue and the house didn’t smell of paint or look like it was under construction recently, it was very disturbing that Desi would have all this prepped and waiting for her.
This attention to detail makes you think he was either planning to hold her hostage for himself in the near future, or he was just hopelessly delusional; expecting that one day she would come to her senses and they would live happily ever after.
2. Hilary Handy
Hilary Handy was another Tom O’Hara. She is someone who crossed Amy indirectly and it resulted in Amy ruining her life. Hilary knew Amy in High School and even though Hilary was the new girl, Amy decided to take her under her wing. Amy quickly became jealous though when a boy called Hilary instead of her, when Hilary received a slightly better grade point average, and when a friend invited Hilary over for Thanksgiving but didn’t invite Amy.
That series of events made Hilary a new target. Amy convinced Hilary to dye her hair the same color as her because it would look prettier a lighter shade. Amy told Hilary to prank call her house saying that she was the new Amazing Amy, so then Hilary did it for fun. Then Amy even dared her to go up to Amy’s mom and say she was going to get rid of Amy and she will be the new Amy. After Amy convinced Hilary to pull all these pranks, Amy started to distance herself. Then one day at school, Amy fell down a flight of stairs and claimed that Hilary was the one who pushed her. Amy says that Hilary became obsessed, and Amy had all this evidence against her because of the pranks Amy had her pull.
It ended with Amy’s parents getting a restraining order against Hilary and as a result she was expelled from school. Hilary was an important part to the story because it showed that Amy didn’t have a personal vendetta for just men. Women weren’t off limits when it came to her vengeance. It made Amy that more dangerous and crazy, yet Hilary was nowhere to be found in the movie.
1. Amy was Worse
In the book, one of the clues lead Nick to a place called Hannibal, Missouri. There was a time when Nick brought her there, they talked about his childhood, and how he used to work there as Huck Finn to lead people to an ice cream shop. So Nick goes there, pays to go on the tour, and he finds the next clue under a bench leading him to the Brown House. It just so happens that later you find out that Amy’s purse was found in a river in Hannibal and Nick paid for the tour with his credit card. So during the investigation, the cops discovered that Nick was previously in Hannibal and assume that he must have gone there to get rid of her purse, but it was just another way for Amy to frame Nick.
Next in her diary there was a wonderful story about Nick making them a couple drinks. But then she grew very ill as the night went on, , and woke up with blue fingernails, blue lips, and couldn’t pee for days. For all of you who haven’t tried poisoning anyone recently, those are all symptoms of anti-freeze poisoning that they try to pin on Nick as well.
Then finally, if the shed of goodies weren’t bad enough to frame Nick for the credit card debt, Amy also thought to put a bunch of porn in the shed for the cops to find. But not just regular porn; there were titles like, Brutal Anal, Humiliating Whores, and Hurt the Bitch volumes 1 through 18. This was just an extra little spice in the whole “F*ck Nick Dunne” plan. Typical Amy.