Gone Girl, the upcoming mystery thriller based on the novel of the same name by Gillian Flynn, seems like a perfect fit for director David Fincher, whose past work includes other nasty crime tales like Se7en and The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. The casting for the two lead roles is also pretty ideal: Ben Affleck as out-of-work journalist Nick Dunne and Rosamund Pike as his wife, Amy, who moves with Nick from New York City to his small, rural hometown after Nick’s mother falls ill.
On their fifth wedding anniversary, Amy goes missing under suspicious circumstances, leaving behind only one of her traditional romantic treasure hunts with clues for Nick to follow. The disappearance draws widespread attention from the public and media, and before long Nick finds himself becoming a suspect in the eyes of journalists, the police, and even his own family.
Flynn’s novel progressively ratchets up the tension and suspense over the course of Nick and Amy’s dark tale, and the ending of the book has been the subject of a great deal of discussion, with many readers outright infuriated by Gone Girl‘s conclusion. For those who did find it unsatisfying, David Fincher’s comments earlier this year that the film has “a whole new third act” no doubt came as good news, but Flynn herself (who wrote the screenplay) has since described the changes as being “greatly exaggerated,” and in a recent interview with Entertainment Weekly (via Vulture) Fincher has made things even less clear.
What has changed about Gone Girl‘s third act? “Everything and nothing,” according to Fincher. That’s still about as clear as muddy puddle at midnight, so Fincher was asked to elaborate.
“You’re not changing the marrow of the creature. You’re just changing the bone structure and the muscles and the skin… And the hair. It’s all of its outer sheathing. But at its core, it’s exactly what I think Gillian always intended.”
If the film’s ending is exactly what Flynn had always intended, then this raises the question of why it’s not the ending that was in the book. Some readers have commented that they felt the ending was “rushed,” so it’s possible that Flynn has had time to rethink the third act a little since the novel’s publication in 2012.
Fincher’s anatomical description is something of an imperfect metaphor for a story, but it sounds like the “marrow” that he’s referring to is the book’s dark and bittersweet tone, which the original ending fit with very well. If Flynn has managed to restructure the third act, or even change events entirely, while keeping the overall tone of the story intact then the film’s story could potentially end up being an improvement over the book.
Affleck, who has long been in the celebrity spotlight and received a lot of heat from comic book fans after he was cast as Bruce Wayne in Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice last year, was also interviewed by EW, and explained that his own experiences had very much prepared him for playing Nick: “I knew what it was like to have the tabloid world paying attention to me and ascribing negative motivations to whatever I might be engaging in. I knew what it was to be cast in the soap opera I had no control over.”
Those who read the book can judge for themselves how much the third act has changed – and whether it’s for better or worse – when Gone Girl releases in theaters on October 3rd, 2014.