I’ve always been a bookworm and I’ve always been a cinephile. So there is a real intrigue and joy for me whenever books are made into films. I know that typically people believe that the book is always better. It’s the way the story was meant to be told, and sometimes that is lost in translation when it’s turned into a screenplay. Maybe we feel the characters were miscast or the storyline was butchered or the beauty that belongs to the book is simply missing from the film. But recently I watched a film interpretation that was far better than the book, and decided to share a few with you. I’m going to try not to discuss the storylines too much so as not to ruin them for you if you’ve not read or watched them yet.
The Devil Wears Prada
This one is fairly obvious because, by now, I don’t know anyone who hasn’t at least heard of this, even if they haven’t seen it. I read the book many years ago and, while it was an interesting read, I didn’t really like it. The book version of this film was dark. It was sad and depressing. The characters weren’t as shiny and vibrant and the plot wasn’t as bold. Without ruining it for you in case you haven’t read it and want to, I’ll just say that it was much darker, especially for Lily, than the film was.
On the other hand, the film is many things the book is not. It’s bright and beautiful. It’s funny and endearing. The characters were portrayed in a far better way and were so much more alive and interesting to me. They were more relatable. Not to mention that the perfomances, as we now know, by Streep and the other actors involved, were incredibly well done. I only read the book once, but I’ve watched this film several times. I’d love to entirely replace the negative feelings that the book gave me with the good feelings that the film does. They say that a good writer makes you feel. What those feeling are can really vary and, in this way, you could say that the book was well-written because it made me dislike it. But for me, that doesn’t mean a book is good. I look more to how the story makes me feel and what I take away from it. And in this case, the film did much more of that for me than the book ever could.
A Simple Favor
I’m just going to be honest here, even though it’s going to be brutal. I hate, hate, hated this book. The only reason I finished it was because I had started it and I wanted to see it through. But I literally found myself procrastinating so I wouldn’t have to read it, and audibly sighing while I did. The characters are detestable. I mean: Every. Single. Character. The only characters I didn’t hate were the children, though I did feel sorry for them. I was hoping at some point social services would arrive to remove them from the unstable environment and idiotic adults in the novel. None of the characters were likeable. More than that, they were loathsome. I couldn’t invest in any of them and didn’t want anything good for any of them either. I just hated them so much.
When the movie came out, I was leary. But I do like Blake Lively. She piqued my interest with her involvement in the film, and I did think it looked interesting, so I decided to give it a try. It was enjoyable. I loved Lively’s portrayal of Emily. I also found myself incredibly surprised by how much I liked Anna Kendrick in the film. I’ve never really been a fan of hers, but I loved her in this movie. She was likable and funny, and made me appreciate the character of Stephanie far more than I did in the book. In addition, I really liked the end of the film more than I liked the ending of the book. Books can describe something, but ultimately the visions are formed by the reader. And for me, the movie was far more beautiful than the book as well. The glamour of Emily, the beautiful scenery and sets, the gorgeous clothing – the movie was lovely to watch, and that helps too. Like with the former, I’d happily watch the movie again, and gladly burn the book.
The Girl On The Train
Unlike the last one I discussed, I didn’t hate reading this book. I did find the storyline compelling, and I did want to know what had happened. However, like A Simple Favor, I didn’t love the characters. I couldn’t stand Anna. I think she was the worst one for me, and whenever the book switched to her point of view I was irritated. I trusted Rachel’s narration and really wanted to like her. I guess I did, in a way. I felt sorry for her and I wanted better for her, but it didn’t really like her. I also wasn’t a fan of Scott or Megan’s or Tom’s, and by the end I felt largely disappointed. I suppose all along I was hoping for an ending that would be more interesting or uplifting than the one I got. I was left feeling as though something was unfinished for Rachel and had hoped to see her in a better place.
I just watched the film last night and I’ve found that I did enjoy it over the book, though not quite as much as I did for the others. In the film version the story moved much more quickly (as is often the case when a long novel becomes a film) and I really liked it better that way. In addition, without being able to know Anna as well as I did in the novel, I found that I liked her much, much more. I still didn’t love her character, but I didn’t hate her. The biggest difference for me was Rachel. The Rachel of the novel was irritatingly frustrating. It was hard to read about her mistakes and choices occurring over and over again. But in the film I felt much more sympathetic towards her. It was still hard to see her in so much pain, but it was easier to forgive her missteps.
Oftentimes a film loses so much of what the book intended that it’s nearly impossible to tell the same story both ways. And if you are going to try to then you might find yourself with a 6 hour mini-series or film like Stephen King’s The Stand. Many times the books are altered on purpose in order to deliver a happier ending or a less depressing story because that’s what people like and that’s what they will pay for. Novels are often changed for their film counterparts in order to appeal to a wider audience. And I’m alright with that. Because I’m able to keep the film and the novel separate, I don’t mind seeing another interpretation. Books and films are both magical to me and I enjoy seeing stories told through both mediums. In these three cases, however, I would say it’s safe to go ahead and watch the films and skip the books if you are the kind of person who enjoys a lighter form of entertainment.