Part of what made Gillian Flynn’s thriller Gone Girl such a runaway success in 2012 was the buzz around that big, game-changing twist halfway through the novel. And there was a fear that readers who had already enjoyed the book—about a seemingly perfect marriage that comes under suspicion when wife Amy goes missing on her fifth anniversary and police begin investigating husband Nick—would be less engaged by David Fincher’s forthcoming movie adaptation, since they already know how it ends.
Well, Fincher went ahead and eliminated that dilemma by deciding to completely rewrite the entire third act of the movie. Flynn, who adapted her own novel, took on the challenge of tossing out the third act and taking Nick (Ben Affleck) and Amy (Rosamund Pike) to entirely new places.
The impetus for such a drastic change seems to have come from another high-profile novel that Fincher adapted: Stieg Larsson’s The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. Speaking about the 2011 film, Fincher recently told Entertainment Weekly that “we may have been too beholden to the source material.”
Personally, I loved Fincher’s adaptation; his attention to detail made it easy to immerse oneself in that world. Furthermore, I was not actually a huge fan of Gone Girl‘s ending. (Warning: Herein be major spoilers.)
After the incredibly satisfying twist that revealed that Amy had engineered her own disappearance, and the anticipation leading up to their reunion, it was frustrating to see how, instead of being brought to justice, she trapped Nick into staying in their marriage due to her pregnancy. I’m very interested in seeing how Flynn reworks her novel for the big screen. She certainly seems game to do so: She told EW, “There was something thrilling about taking this piece of work that I’d spent about two years painstakingly putting together with all its eight million LEGO pieces and take a hammer to it and bash it apart and reassemble it into a movie.”
Here are a few imagined alternate endings that would, in my opinion, improve the Gone Girl story:
Amy becomes a prisoner
One of my favorite parts of the third act is how, after she gets robbed of most of her escape money, Amy thinks she can rope her high school sweetheart Desi (Neil Patrick Harris) into taking her in. Amy thinks she has the upper hand in this situation but finds instead that Desi has made his posh lake house into less of a sanctuary than a plush prison. That Amy was able to use the same patience and methodical planning that she used to orchestrate her disappearance to murder Desi—and get the hell out of that creepy house—seemed almost Mary Sue-ish. I’ve got to agree with MTV on this one: A more believable sequence of events might involve Desi cutting her off at the pass with every escape attempt and, most likely, drugging her into submission. If anyone’s good at the waiting game, it’s Desi.
Imagine: Nick returns to Desi’s house one more time on a hunch. While Desi reiterates that he hasn’t seen Amy—and maybe even threatens a restraining order against Nick—Amy watches, helpless, from the guest house. For the first time, she actually wants Nick to find her.
Amy’s not pregnant
Amy uses this ploy once before, to plant the idea that Nick killed because she was pregnant and he wanted to be with his mistress instead. What’s to say she’s not faking it again in the end? That, or I could see her being actually pregnant but then inducing a miscarriage once she’s gotten her book published and ensured that Nick deleted his own manuscript. This is a woman who drank antifreeze to frame her husband for poisoning; I can’t imagine she actually cares for her own fetus.
Nick’s dad reveals all
One thing that always bothered me was how Nick’s dementia-ridden father appears in scenes just to mutter “where is that dumb bitch” and then stumble back to the nursing home. Amy admits that she planted further confusion in the old man’s mind, to make him think he was a welcome guest in their home, only to turn him away when he showed up, thus triggering the rants.
One of my big predictions on my first read-through was that Mr. Dunne would tell the police some incriminating piece of information proving that Amy’s disappearance was premeditated. It would be so satisfying to see the old man—who Nick blamed for his own unconscious misogynistic feelings—redeem himself and put Amy behind bars.
Nick and Margo get out of town
Flynn spends so much time setting up Nick and twin sister Margo’s (Carrie Coon) super-close relationship that it’s a disappointment when that doesn’t play out further. Sure, this is a book filled with red herrings, but the last big moment between them is when “Go” is actually convinced that Nick killed Amy. Even after the truth comes out, their relationship is forever damaged, especially after he decides to stay with Amy for the sake of the baby.
Instead, let’s see Go and Nick shakily patch things up and leave town together. There’s nothing left for them in Missouri. Sure, they probably couldn’t open their own bar again, but they could start over where no one knows the twisted love story of Nick and Amy.
In the most absurd of twists, Nick could go all Ashley Judd and go to prison for murder, then bide his time and get paroled for good behavior, so he can track down Amy and actually kill her, under the protection of the double jeopardy clause. I know that Flynn has already said, “I’m not going to have Nick do that,” but a girl can dream.