Movies That Were Better than the Books

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

Based on the 2012 best-selling thriller by Gillian Flynn, the film Gone Girl has arguably become a cult classic. The story follows Nick Dunne, a small-town bar owner who becomes a suspect in the disappearance of his picture-perfect wife, Amy. Aside from the perfect casting (what else better encapsulates Nick Dunne’s energy than Ben Affleck’s awkward side smirk?), David Fincher’s adaptation brings the book to life with added grit and suspense. Flynn wrote the screenplay herself, sticking closely to the tale of a seemingly perfect love story going dangerously awry, but it’s in Fincher’s filmmaking that the cat and mouse game of the Dunne’s marriage becomes truly chilling. 

With all the elements of a film noir, complete with a muted colour palette, a dark mystery, and Amy as the dangerous femme fatale, Fincher still avoids traditional suspense tactics of the domestic thriller, instead focusing his lens on the characters as they grapple to regain control of their own narratives. In contrast to the book, we lose Nick’s internal monologue and the focus shifts more towards Amy, allowing the film to fully explore the unhinged female psyche. Rosamund Pike expertly brings the dark genius of Amy Dunne to life, emphasising the dangerously intelligent, smug, and comedic facets of her personality, making her the epitome of a female villain that audiences can’t help but root for.

Also, that iconic ‘Cool Girl’ monologue just hits different in the film.

by Leah Hocking

David Fincher’s 2014 adaptation of Gillian Flynn’s 2012 Gone Girl is an exceptional recreation that is hard to come by. The film’s direction, soundtrack, script and acting all coalesce to create perhaps the best murder mystery thriller I’ve ever watched. While the book is also exceptional in its pacing and inevitably accounts some events of the mystery in greater detail, the film’s ability to evoke a lasting sense of suspense and conflict of emotion in the viewer, in my opinion, is superior to what is curated in the book. Flynn herself did also write the screenplay for the adaptation, for which she deserves credit, in addition to writing the novel, for how gripping the movie is. Rosamund Pike’s Oscar-nominated (but deservedly winning) performance of protagonist Amy Dunne in particular is so commanding throughout. Her portrayal of the complex, master manipulating psychopath is constructed with such a finesse that I believe on this occasion it outshines what is created in the book. With a two-and-a-half hour runtime the film recreates this story with a level of suspense that is rare to find – I recommend both, but the Gone Girl film should be seen by all! 

by Alex Channing

Call Me By Your Name by André Aciman

Sometimes, stories are  better on screen. My favourite example of this – and I’m aware of how controversial an opinion this can be – is André Aciman’s romance novel Call Me By Your Name. Controversial in its own right, Call Me By Your Name is nonetheless a poignant romance encapsulating the growing and confused passions of a young queer man. While many consider the nature of the relationship in the novel problematic and disregard the book as unhealthy LGBTQ+ representation (all very fair and valid criticism), in literary terms, the book felt reading out someone’s dream – the prose was beautiful but that’s all that really drove the book forward, being flowery and wordy and not offering much beyond a reliance on atmosphere and emotions to create a story. Some readers would find this perfect for them, but for me personally it felt ultimately unfulfilling. The film adaptation however, used these elements to its benefit: the movie’s visuals perfectly encapsulate the setting and nostalgic feeling of summer, and perfectly ties it into the characters that were carried by great performances by the cast and their chemistry, as well as cutting out some of the scenes in the book for an acquired taste.

by Charlotte Lusted