Not to be overly critical of a billion dollar industry or anything, but I think Hollywood has an originality problem. Books with any kind of following are immediately optioned for films – think Gone Girl, Girl on the Train, and The Martian. In other words, we’re not lacking for books that will satisfy the “Adapted into a Movie” book bingo square.
And if you’re like me, if you’ve loved the book, you’ve got some high expectations for the film. The titles I’ve suggested here are complex books made into films that didn’t disappoint.
Daniel Woodrell’s Winter’s Bone follows 17-year-old Ree Dolly through a poverty-stricken Ozarks landscape on a desperate quest to find her father. The highly acclaimed southern gothic film directed by Debra Granik featured Jennifer Lawrence in her breakout role.
Thomas Pynchon’s gonzo Inherent Vice was made into an equally gonzo film by director P. T. Anderson, who was not afraid to take the bizarre plot twists and a hazy narrative structure featuring the antics of bleary P.I. Doc Sportello and translate it almost verbatim to the screen.
The Paperboy by Pete Dexter is not for the faint of heart. Both the book and the film showcase in gory detail characters at their most emotionally and sexually desperate. Roger Ebert called director Lee Daniel’s film “great trash,” and quoted critic Pauline Kael, who said “Movies are so rarely great art that if we cannot appreciate the great trash, we have very little reason to be interested in them.”
The gender- and time-bending Orlando was Virginia Woolf’s novel of the twenties and Sally Potter’s film of the nineties. Tilda Swinton and Billy Zane, oh my . . . “And as all Orlando’s loves had been women . . . though she herself was a woman, it was still a woman she loved…”
–posted by Alison D.