Now that the movie is out — and a success at the box office with a $38 million opening weekend — and the mystery ending is finally revealed, it turns out … yeah, it’s pretty much exactly the same as the book.
Sure, there were a few small differences, but overall, the crazy conclusion remained the same. Even though Amy (Rosamund Pike) framed husband Nick (Ben Affleck) for her murder — revenge for him having an affair, among many other complicated reasons — he does not leave her when she arrives back at home. Just as Nick is about to tell the world about Amy’s socipathic behavior — in the book, he’s writing a tell-all novel; in the movie, he’s prepping for a TV interview — Amy arrives with one more surprise: She’s pregnant.
And just as in the book — that’s how it ends. (The baby was conceived through a very twisted manner: Amy saved Nick’s sperm from when she tricked him into going to a fertility clinic months ago.) Nick knows he has to stay with Amy forever to protect his child from her, and so they stay together as one incredibly messed up family.
On so many levels, this is very frustrating. It’s one thing to read about how Amy is a complete psychopath without consequences. It’s another to actually see on screen when she murders ex-boyfriend Desi (Neil Patrick Harris), who rescued Amy when her runaway plan didn’t work out. She brutally stabs him to death and she faces no punishment.
In fact, the movie version was even a little more infuriating in how she gets away with a cold-blooded murder. In the book, at least Desi’s mother goes to the police, hysterical, saying that Amy killed her son — even though she’s whisked away, there’s the faint hope that maybe the case is re-opened somewhere down the line.
Not so much in the film, as the mother character didn’t exist. Desi is left for dead, as Amy tells police he kidnapped her and she escaped. And since the police look incompetent for trying to pin her murder on Nick (when it turns out she was alive this whole time) they have to believe her story.
Overall, this “happily ever after ending” for the World’s Most Dysfunctional Marriage is a lot more difficult to take when you see Amy’s path of destruction. While Nick was a terrible husband, you can’t help but feel for him the entire film, especially when it’s repeatedly stated that Missouri has the death penalty if he’s convicted of killing Amy. When he’s “saved” after she returns, you’re relieved for a second; but then you really, really want Amy to get the punishment she deserves for pulling off such a scheme.
Alas, that will not happen in any version of Flynn’s story. In the movie and the book, the fact that Nick and Amy stay together (with a baby on the way!) is considered somewhat justified when Amy reminds Nick that after all they’ve been through, he’ll be bored with anyone else if he divorces her.
Maybe true, but he could also be murdered. That’s left unclear — the last line of the movie sees Amy gazing lovingly at Nick as he asks in a chilling voiceover: “What have we done to each other? What will we do?” At least in the book, on the last page, Nick gets a pretty epic zinger. When he dotes on Amy during her pregnancy, she asks why she’s being so nice to him — and he responds, “Because I feel sorry for you … because every morning you have to wake up and be you.”
That remark really gets under Amy’s skin, and it’s somewhat telling that maybe they won’t be able to keep up this horrible charade, especially with a new baby in the house. Unfortunately, in the movie, there’s no such closure — we’re just left with the unsettling feeling that many more terrible things are about to happen.