Gone Girl: A Movie Adaptation That Lacks a Few Pages From the Book

Reham Alawadhi
By Reham Alawadhi

Whenever a movie that’s based on a book comes out, I’m always reluctant to watch it when I have already read the book. At first, I get excited that this book I chose to read, which I loved, is being made into a movie because it boosts my ego; it suggests that others agree with my taste; and it’s exciting to see how a different person interpreted the book that I imagined in my own unique way.

The reluctance comes from past experiences with movies, which stem from books never being able to outdo the book. For example, the Harry Potter movies, the Twilight movies, “The Silver Linings Playbook,” “The Host,” and the Hunger Games movies.

gone-girlI was hoping David Fincher’s “Gone Girl” would be the anomaly that changed this trend. It was not. Not that I didn’t enjoy the movie — I did, but there were elements from the book that were missing from the screen, and I thought they were essential for the movie to succeed.

The part of the book that resonated with me the most was Amy Dunne’s description of the “Cool Girl.” According to Amy, women are pressured to pretend to be the “Cool Girls” who like things like video games, poker, cheap beer and football, in order for men to like them. The blame is spread out among women who pretend to like these things, and men (who get even more of the blame) for pressuring women to conform to these expectations.

This “Cool Girl” speech was not missing from the movie, but the message it conveyed was entirely different. In the movie, Amy says the same thing about women, while typical “Cool Girls” shown in surrounding cars. This shifted all of the blame onto the women, as if it was solely their fault for obediently conforming to male expectations.

The reason it seemed like it wasn’t the man’s fault was because from the beginning of the movie, Rosamund Pike’s s screen portrayal of Amy was not like the typical “Cool Girl” that she was supposedly pretending to be. Amy was not likable from the start of the movie until the end. From the first scene, she is shown looking at her husband Nick Dunne, portrayed by Ben Affleck, in the creepiest way possible. She always seems icy cold, without dimension.

In the book, the “Cool Girl” speech was supposed to slightly validate Amy ’s actions and at least justify her motivation to do what she did. It was Nick who pushed her to the edge. However in the movie, it just seems as if Amy is a psychopath, which she probably was, but it makes viewers lose any sympathy for her that they might have developed had they heard the “Cool Girl” speech from the book.

Another element that was missing from the movie, which also added to Amy appearing crazy, was the fact that Desi Collings, portrayed by Neil Patrick Harris, is very stalker-like after she flees into his lake house.

In the book Desi won’t let her leave, gives her no way of escaping, and threatens that he’ll go to the police if he finds her gone – except he disguises the threats as loving concern. These important narrative points would have made Amy appear less crazy, and would have slightly justified her escape plan. However his lack of creepiness in the movie makes Amy look more evil.

The music soundtrack also seems odd, and often does not fit the mood of the scene. While Nick and Amy are talking about losing their jobs, weird music plays, which consists of light piano and drum beats. I don’t know if the idea was to enhance a certain mood. To me,  the music was just distracting.

At one point in the movie Nick says, “I’m sick of being picked apart by women.” This and other aspects of the movie accentuate the idea that Amy, and maybe women in general, victimize themselves, and target men.

One character in the book who could have changed this idea is missing from the movie. That character is Hilary Handy, a friend of Amy’s from high school. Amy targeted Hilary and made it seem like she was stalking her and was obsessed with her. With an important character like Hilary missing from the movie, it seems as if Amy is targeting only male victims.

I left the movie theater wondering why the author of “Gone Girl,” Gillian Flynn, who also wrote the screenplay, allowed the book , which had very strong feminist themes, to become a movie with very strong misogynistic themes. 

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