I’m sometimes inspired to read a book because I heard about a great upcoming film based on it or conversely, a great book that I just read inspires me to see the film. As it is always said, the book is always better. I have to definitely agree with that. Good rule of thumb for life: If you had to choose between the two, always choose the book. Many times a film can be a really horrible interpretation of the source material (NEVER watch the movie “The Time Travelers‘ Wife” but DO read the book) but sometimes the film can be spot on in terms of look, content, and depth. It doesn’t happen often in my opinion, but when it does, it’s great. I have compiled a list of my top five books to films from the last 10 years or so, great books that I have read and the worthy adapted films. In no way does this list represent the best of the books to films out there (This is directed to you, Harry Porter fans!), only my favorites of what I have read/watched :) I welcome your suggestions on what should be my next book/film combo!
So here goes…
#5 - Brief Interviews with Hideous Men
I remember picking up the book “Brief Interviews with Hideous Men” (1999) shortly after I heard about the suicide of the critically acclaimed author David Foster Wallace. Shortly after Wallace’s death in 2009, John Krasinski released the film he wrote and directed, based on this book. “Brief Interviews with Hideous Men” is a very involved and at times satirical collection of imagined (or as in the film, real) interviews with men on the subject of their relationships with women. All the subjects come from different backgrounds, different cultures, and different experiences but have one things in common - their hideous perversions and/or immoral attitudes.
#4 - The Romantics
I’m all about a good book that explores the complexities of relationships and this one was no exception. I heard about the film version (starring Katie Holmes, Anna Paquin, and Josh Duhamel) of the 2008 novel first and it looked so good I was intrigued to read the book before the film was released. The story follows the reunion of seven college friends over a wedding weekend of two of the friends. “The Romantics” refer to the nickname of the friends in college because they had the tendency to date around in their group. The main story lines follows the complicated history and clash between the bride and the maid of honor over the groom, with whom the maid of honor was once romantically involved. The film was written and directed by the author of the book, which to me, plays into the interconnection with the book. Some things are different between the two mediums (the group is downgraded to five from seven) but it is still a great interpretation with an well-casted group of young actors (even Katie Holmes).
#3 - The Reader
Let it be known (if it is not already) that I’m a huge fan of Kate Winslet so it’s not a surprise that two of her films are on this list. “The Reader” is equally a powerful book (1995) and a powerful film (2008, Winslet won an Oscar for her lead role). With that set, it’s only to be read/see when you’re in the mood for something deeply serious. Set in Post-WWII Germany, this book follows the illicit affair between a teenage boy and a mysterious older woman before she disappears. Only years later, as a law student, does the man come in contact with her again when she is on trial for war crimes. Heavy.
#2 - Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
We all have probably heard of the upcoming American remake of “Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” (uhh, I’m so excited about it, I can burst, and I don’t even support Hollywood remakes most of the time. But it’s freaking David Fincher directing!) but have you read the book or seen the original Swedish film? Definitely worth it but it’s not for the fane of heart as it gets graphic really quickly. The story follows the mystery surrounding the forty-year old disappearance of a young girl, a member of one of the most prominent families in Sweden. When a journalist and deeply troubled prodigy join forces to solve the case, what they uncover is deep and unsettling. The first 100 pages or so of the book is alittle difficult to read, in my opinion, but it’s worth getting through.
#1 - Little Children
“Little Children” was probably the first book and film that I picked up that really worked together for me on all levels and is still my favorite. The story follows into the lives of two couples in a suburban neighborhood. Kate Winslet is the embodiment of a frazzled mother emotionally disconnected from her daughter who forms an unlikely connection with a handsome stay-at-home father (Patrick Wilson) who has the opposite relationship with his young son. Both are in unhappy marriages which ultimately leads to their affair. Secondarily, the story follows the reaction of their seemingly perfect suburban town to a registered sex offender that moves to the neighborhood. I love how both the book and the film delves deep into the motivations of the characters to show their beauty and ugliness.