The Best & Worst Adaptations

Most writers like to imagine that someday, their books will be TV shows or films, and I'd be lying if I said I didn't also think that would be totally awesome. Some folks are dead set against adaptations though, and I understand-- it's always a gamble. In this spirit, I thought it would be fun to pick the best book-to-film adaptations and the worst.



Okay, before I really thought about it, my initial impulse was to say Bridget Jones's Diary. It's one of those rare times when I actually think the movie is better than the book. The movie has a very clear arc-- you know what you're supposed to get out of it. I didn't get that from the book, seeing as Bridget is still hooking up with both dudes. I guess the movie fit my American-moral expectations as a young impressionable college gal.


Another movie that's better than the book is Shutter Island. It's dream-like mystery is so haunting in the film, and Michelle Williams and Leonardo DiCaprio make you feel for them even though their relationship is only seen in flashes. I expected the same aesthetics in the book-- thought it would be even better-- but it was just...meh? I honestly don't know what to say about it because I didn't finish it. That's how un-compelling it was.


After more reflection though, I thought, WAIT, Girl, Interrupted?  Then-- WAIT--Handmaid's Tale? Game of Thrones?! Surly those two win, right? They're both like nightmares that I never want to wake up from. (That's a compliment.)  I've never read the GOT series, but I read Handmaid's and I gotta say, the adaptation does an amazing job of capturing the truth of the novel while also taking it a step further and making it something new--the dream! So that's my winner: Handmaid's Tale.




There are many adaptions that have disappointed me-- like the last two Harry Potter movies (book seven was so exciting and the movies were...not??), but nothing comes close the anger I felt after seeing Gone Girl.


I think what upset me the most about Gone Girl was how many people actually thought it was good. It was not good, and if you disagree, you are WRONG. (Actually, I did note that a lot of folks who thought the movie was good never read the book.)


The reason-- in my opinion-- why Gone Girl was so popular as a novel was because of the way it was written. Duh, but I mean it sort of crossed genres. It was a mystery thriller but also had an intimacy that you usually see in women's fiction. The reason that Amy was so terrifying was because many of her sections were so heart-breakingly personal that you'd think, "Wow-- Gillian Flynn gets me."  Then you'd think, "Wait-- that character is a psychopath though! What's happening? Who am I?!"  That's what Gillian Flynn does so well-- you connect and empathize with people that you know you shouldn't. Her villains are fully-fleshed out and real.


That crucial element was totally missing from the film. The Amy character was not a relateable human, but a wooden, blank slate. And what the hell was Neil Patrick Harris doing there? I mean seriously, what the hell?! The casting was just a shit show. I guess the directing also had to be to blame? And the editing? Gillian Flynn herself helped write the screenplay, so really, what happened? It was like the people making the film were completely blind to the soul of the book. It was a Lifetime movie.


I haven't seen Dark Places yet because I'm afraid it will also make me furious, but the book is phenomenal. You know what's funny is my least favorite Gillian Flynn book, Sharp Objects, looks like it's going to be a great adaptation. I mean, they got Amy Adams! I guess we'll see, but anyway, I've got my winner for worst adaptation: Gone Girl. 


You know the drill-- tell me your favorite and least favorite adaptations, and why! I think I may even put the results here. That sounds fun, right?

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