It was tempting to immediately choose well known book adaptations that are beloved by many but this would have been a little predictable. Films like Schindler’s List, The Shinning, The Lord of the Rings, The Silence of the Lambs and The Shawshank Redemption are all exceptional; however the films I have chosen are not as popular but they definitely deserve the praise and attention that some of the well known adaptations receive.
Here are my top 5 book to film adaptations part two.
Based on the autobiographical memoir by Susanna Kaysen Girl Interrupted follows the journey of the author’s experience in a psychiatric ward where she was being treated after an attempted suicide. Winona Ryder stars as Kaysen in this drama that not only focuses on Susanna’s experience but also the women she meets in the hospital. Ryder’s reserved performance is sometimes overshadowed by Angelina Jolie’s animated portrayal of Lisa who is a charismatic and unpredictable patient that unlike Kaysen seems to enjoy being at the hospital. Although the book’s author was not happy with the adaptation (describing the film as “melodramatic drivel”) the film is not overly sentimental and it takes an interesting look at someone who is analytical about what was considered mentally ill as well as being very aware of her own mental state.
Charles Dickens’s masterpiece has been re-made numerous times but it was the 1998 version starring Ethan Hawke and Gwyneth Paltrow that I really enjoyed. This modern American adaptation depicts Hawke as Finn, a boy who’s brief encounter with an escaped convict and his relationship with a girl called Estella has a profound effect on him during his life. Besides differences in the location and period that the film is set, some of the names of characters have also changed including the protagonists’ which changed from Pip to Finn and Miss Havisham being re-named Nora Dinsmoor (Anne Bancroft).
As mysteries go The Prestige keeps you guessing till the very end with a number of plot twists that will leave you quite impressed. Based on the Christopher Priest novel The Prestige is directed by Christopher Nolan and stars Christian Bale, Hugh Jackman, Michael Cain, and Scarlet Johansson. Bale and Jackman star as two magicians in the late 19th century who become enemies after a trick goes tragically wrong and the pair subsequently try to sabotage each other’s acts becoming embroiled in a bitter vendetta. The story you imagined when reading the book is skilfully transferred to the screen by Nolan who does a superb job of depicting believable magic tricks without using over the top effects and CGI.
The most heartbreaking and touching films are those that don’t have a happily ever after or a formulaic predictable plot. This is probably the reason why a lot of book to film adaptation are so good because the writers are writing for readers and not for the satisfaction of cinema audiences. A perfect example of this would be The Reader which is based on the German book Der Vorleser by Bernhard Schlink. The film not only tells the story of a love affair between Hanna Schmitz (Kate Winslet) and a 15 year old boy called Michael., but also an older Schmitz on trial for war crimes during World War 2. The tragic ending of The Reader is one that you will keep thinking of long after the film has finished.
With a cool 80s electro-pop inspired soundtrack and the man of the moment Ryan Gosling Drive is a film that definitely got everyone talking. This adaptation of James Sallis’s novel is masterfully translated to the big screen, depicting a morally ambiguous stunt car driver by day who is also a getaway driver by night. This unapologetically stylish neo-noir shows a sinister side of LA that is the perfect backdrop for this crime thriller and the minimal dialogue is still able to evoke feelings that a film with a lot more dialogue would, which makes this a rare case of a film that successfully combines style and substance.