(It should go without saying that a post titled “In Defense of the Gone Girl Ending” will contain spoilers about how Gone Girl ends. But if you somehow ended up here and still don’t know how it ends, leave now.)
When millions of people read Gone Girl last summer, many finished the last chapter with a resounding “What the F*CK?!” They loved the book, hated the ending. If that was your reaction, you'll probably feel the same about the movie, because — despite what you may have heard — it ends the same way.
Here, someone who liked the Gone Girl ending (me, John Boone) debates it with someone who didn’t — my mom, Kathy Boone, a 50-something regional sales manager from the Midwest whose favorite movie is Pay It Forward.
John: First, can you recap what happens at the end of the book? Or how you interpreted it? In the middle, we find out Amy is framing Nick for murder. She eventually comes home because she thinks he will now be the perfect husband. Then...
Kath: Nick had written his side of the story and was going to show Amy and leave her. When he showed her [his manuscript] she showed him a pregnancy test that indicated she was pregnant. It was his child so he had to stay and make sure his son was raised properly. He succumbed to her demands so he could be a father.
And you didn’t like it, right? Why not?
Kath: I like everything buttoned up and happy. I felt she was a crazy person and had all the control. She was manipulative, narcissistic, and an evil person, and she always got her way. It drove me CRAZY!! In this ending, he turned out as crazy as she did.
But — even though Amy really takes the crazy and runs with it — I could argue she only ended up as crazy as she did because of how messed up Nick was at the beginning (not even factoring in his cheating). Neither was a good person. Nick is really only good in comparison to Amy’s really not good. And don’t you think there’s something to be said for not happy people having a not happy ending? They’re both kind of horrible, why don’t they deserve what they got?
Kath: I didn’t think Nick was as horrible as Amy, but by the end of the book I felt like they deserved each other.
I think they deserved each other the whole book. Nick was just able to be charming about all his bad behavior. Amy doesn’t try to hide her psycho. She lets her psycho flag fly! That’s worth...something, right? How would you want the book to end?
Kath: I wanted Desi’s mother to kill Amy. That way Nick was free from her, and Amy was punished for what she did.
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That’s dark. But it is kind of a (morbid) happy ending for Nick. Do you think a happier ending could have been possible? Do you think the book would have been as popular with a happy ending?
Kath: I think you could have had the above ending, but then it would have been like every other book. I think it got so much recognition because it was very different.
So ultimately, what is on the page and onscreen is the only outcome possible. It’s hard for me to understand how people who liked the rest of the book — especially how effed up it was — were mad it didn’t end up as equally effed up. If it had ended any other way, I don’t think it would have resonated the same. Or been believable. Revenge of Mrs. Collings? Really?!
Anyway, I know that as a mom yourself, you also had a problem with the fact that they bring a kid into their wacko marriage, right?
Kath: Yes! Because she reminds me of Satan!
So what kind of mom do you think Amy will be? What kind of dad do you think Nick will be? Where do you think their kid and their marriage will be in 10 years?
Kath: I think Amy will be a manipulative mother. She is narcissistic and everything is about her, so I don’t think she will be able to put her child first. She will use her child to hurt Nick whenever needed. I think Nick will be a great dad. Even if he didn’t want to, he will have no choice. He also already realized the mistakes he has made in the past and the way his father was and does not want to repeat that.
In 10 years, if Nick is able to be perfect, they could have a fake marriage that appears to be happy and their child will be raised properly. If Nick isn’t perfect, however, their child will be a pawn in Amy’s game. He will grow up to be resentful and rebellious and probably without a father, as Amy will frame Nick for something so he gets arrested.
I think you should write the sequel, mom. You basically already did. Are you planning to see the movie? Do you think you’ll feel the same way about the ending on screen?
Kath: Yes, I am very much looking forward to the movie. I do think I will feel the same after seeing the movie unless Amy DIES!!
Maybe that will be an alternate ending on the DVD.