Gone Girl (2014) Directed by David Fincher

Finally! One of the most anticipated bookish movie adaptations is here. Produced by Reese Witherspoon, directed by David Fincher and adapted to the screen by its author, Gillian Flynn, Gone Girl (2014) stars Rosamund Pike as Amy and Ben Affleck as Nick. And it is one great adaptation. I will keep this short and talk about some key issues. Please beware this review contains spoilers.

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The movie follows the book’s structure: the first third is Nick’s version of the story; the second third is Amy’s and the third one is a common narrative, the Dunne’s dialogue. And, regarding early reports, Flynn has not changed the controversial ending, so, as it happened with the book, either you will love it or you will hate it.

_DSC9269.NEFRunning at 146 minutes, the movie is a faithful adaptation of the book. Although I read Gone Girl some time ago, I could identify the key scenes and I was in awe at Affleck’s – and above all – Pike’s execution. Their acting is just perfect, even though at first I was not at all convinced by Pike. I had seen her in Pride and Prejudice (2005) and some other British movies and I doubted whether she could as dark as Amy’s character needs. I am happy to report that she does, and I do hope she gets an Academy Award for this role (same for FIncher and Flynn). Affleck, on the other hand is as insipid and as common as Nick’s character needs him to be. The best part of the movie? When he smiles in front of her wife’s missing poster.

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While doing promotional appearances recently, Affleck revealed Fincher filmed him coming out of the shower, implying full frontal nudity. Well, there is not such scene, but there is nudity and a few professional sex scenes. Affleck quoted Fincher saying he wanted Gone Girl to be like a European movie, where nudity would not be a scandal, but totally integrated in the narration. It works perfectly and you never feel nudity is free, it is there to serve the plot and tell Nick and Amy’s story.

However, I was not really happy with the ending, even though it is supposed to be the same. I remember when I read the book, I felt Nick stayed with Amy because although Amy was slightly more psychopathic, he is not innocent either. But in the movie, Nick is portrayed as trapped with Amy – and his sister cries with anger and pain at seeing him like this – and has to stay with her because of the pregnancy. I think this victimization does not match the character study the book is.

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But, above all, Gone Girl is both an amazing movie and an amazing adaptation of a controversial book. I cannot wait til its Blu-ray release so that I can re-watch at home and delight myself in Amy’s evil intelligence and masterful manipulation. I am short for words because although I could write 1,000 words on the movie, words cannot explain the feeling you get when you actually hear Amy disses the cool girl image, or the ambivalence when she returns home covered in blood and Nick hugs her and insults her. If you loved the book, I think you should watch the movie. And, then, this in-depth interview with Rosamund Pike. Enjoy!

Death Comes to Pemberley (BBC)

Just a quick status update:

Today I discovered that the BBC has adapted P.D James’ novel Death Comes to Pemberley – which I loved, see my review here –  as a three-part mystery airing next week. So, since I loved the book so much, I am obviously enthusiastic about it. But, for what I saw on the trailer – although it’s only 48 seconds – has left me wondering if they are keeping Elizabeth as strong, driven and intelligent as James rewrote her. I really hope they do, because it was one of the things I liked the most, apart from the crime! For all you can see on the trailer, though, it’s women desperately crying, and men fightint each other. But, on a more positive note, I love that they present Elizabeth and Darcy as a strong couple who stay together. So, let’s just wait til Chritmas. Can’t wait!

Now, can we devote a line to comment on Matthew Rhys as Mr. Darcy? All I want to say is: Yes!

Anna Karenina (2012)

Anna Karenina (2012) is the latest film adaptation of Leo Tolstoy’s homonymous novel. The 2012 version was directed by Joe Wright who had previously adapted Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice back in 2005. In both adaptations, English actress Keira Knightley plays the main role.

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When I saw the trailer for Anna Karenina in September 2012, I know I had to watch the movie as soon as it came out and since it got a March release date in Spain, I decided to read the book first. Now, I struggle quite a lot with the novel and sadly did not manage to watch the movie when it opened so when I finished the book last week, I couldn’t wait to watch the movie, at home. I’ve decided to clearly structure my review in three parts because I found myself reviewing them like this when I turned the TV off and have since then thought even more about these aspects:

The cast

Key question: Did Keira Knightley do a good job? I think she did fairly well, but still I didn’t like her performance. It was a correct, almost flawless performance, but not a good one, not a remarkable one. There was nothing either bad or good you could say about it. Having said that, I’m not Knightley’s biggest fan and as I heard an English actress say once “she’s everywhere, so it’s tiring for the audience”. I think her gestures are pretty modern in that she is not composed and elegant as a 19th century lady would have been. I think Ruth Wilson as Princess Betsy did a greater job even though she is not supposed to be elegant.

Domhnall Gleeson did a good job as Levin although I was really glad Levin’s protagonism in the novel was not translated to the screen. I didn’t like him either as I didn’t like the character in the novel. But all this probably comes in comparison to the great portrayal Alicia Vikander did of Kitty. She was amazing! So, in their scenes together, all you could see was Kitty and Levin just seemed an object you didn’t pay much attention to.

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Even though I really like Boardwalk Empire, I didn’t recognize Mary McDonald as Dolly. So, great job!

The Scenery

This is what I really liked about the movie and the reason why I decided to watch it: almost everything takes place on a stage. There are walls moving so that a character walks a few feet and they go from one scenery to another one and you can actually see the walls moving! I thought it was a very original technique and it very much represented an idea and a theme not directly addressed in the novel: society is a stage where we play a role. Culture, history, gender, sex, religion, class and many other features dictate how we act even nowadays, but it was much more strict in the 19th century.

It was also very interesting to see how this scenery affected the performances and defined the characters: Anna and Vronsky first dance together on this stage, but once their affair starts, they are shot in the middle of a forest, surrounded by clean air, sunshine and dressed down in white clothes. This created a huge contrast with the poorly illuminated and slightly dirty setting of the stage. I also found it very interesting that I can’t remember Kitty out of the stage meaning that she was the one who followed the rules and behaved as everyone expected while Anna managed to escape her social constrictions. Director Joe Wright said:

The choice to shoot it in a theater was about this idea that they were living their lives as if upon a stage. What I found interesting about Russian society at the time was the kind of identity crisis that they were going through socially, and also Anna seems to be going through an identity crisis. The role that she has adopted no longer suits her; she has this violent passion that needs to break out.

Costume Design and Jewelry

This is my Achilles heel. I love clothes and jewelry. I can stare at a picture of a beautiful dress for days and I’ve decided to stop visiting the Cartier website for my own good. So, when I watched Anna Karenina I was in awe. How beautiful the dresses! How stunning the jewelry! I specially adored Anna’s ensemble when she first dances with Vronsky: she is the only woman in the room with a black dress yet she manages to be at the center. Having said this, it would be very difficult not to call anyone’s attention while wearing Chanel jewelry. Yes, it is my Achilles heel so as soon as I watched the diamond rose necklace I knew I had seen it before and it was not difficult to infer where when you know Knightley is the face of Chanel’s perfume Coco. Here are some pictures for your enjoyment:

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Apparently, Chanel provided all the jewelry for the film – not a low-budget production you see – and it pays off especially if you like fashion. However, I saw Princess Betsy in a green lime dress that would be very much in fashion nowadays but struck me as historically inaccurate even though she is a disruptive character. See it for yourself:

Photo credit: Ruthless Beauty (A Ruth Wilson fansite)

Photo credit: Ruthless Beauty (A Ruth Wilson fansite)

Conclusion

Did I enjoy watching Anna Karenina? Yes, I really did, it was a cozy movie perfect for a Sunday evening when all you want is to lay down and rest. But, I don’t think it’s a masterpiece except for Wright’s scenery. I expected more -as I did with the novel – and was quite disappointed by Knightley’s lack of composure for a 19th century character. I would recommend this movie to anyone who is looking for something cozy and beautiful, appealing to the eye and who doesn’t have great expectations, but if you want to watch something of a better quality, there are BBC mini series that I’m sure you will enjoy much more.

The Great Gatsby (2013)

The Great Gatsby is one of my favourite books ever. I love how many layers it has and you get to discover a new one every time you read it. I’ve already read it about three times and this year, I’m certainly re-reading it.

Romeo + Juliet is one of my favourite movies ever. Everything just falls into place when it needs to: Claire Danes’ and Leonardo DiCaprio’s acting, the music and above all the colors. Baz Luhrmann made a masterpiece.

So what happens when The Great Gatsby is adapted into a movie by Baz Luhrmann himself? Just imagine.

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I’ve been waiting for this movie for a long time, ever since the news that Luhrmann was into the project came out. Then the actors went to Australia to shoot it and there were endless pictures of Leonardo DiCaprio in suits. I know. And then, when it finally got a release date, it was moved almost a year because the 3D was not ready. Now – hopefully – the movie is coming out this May and I’m overexcited. For everything, even the fact the movie does not seem to resemble what I remember about the book in a literal way. Check the trailer:

When I first saw it a few weeks ago I said Mr. B&R: “You know? I don’t know how I feel about all this!” Now I know. I love it. I’ve seen the trailer three times in a row and I’m sold. First of all you need to know I love Luhrmann’s aesthetic: everything is colorful, everything is bright. I’m more than fine with that. I also enjoy Leonardo DiCaprio who has turned out to be a better dramatic actor than everyone expected. Of course, I love the story because I love the original work by F. Scott Fitzgerald. I actually have Gatsby printed all over a T- shirt! So, basically I had two problems:

1)  I didn’t see Carey Mulligan as Daisy and

2) Where did those steamy scenes come from? Wow.

I still haven’t worked out if I like Mulligan mainly because I’ve always thought Daisy was a really complex and dark character hidden under an appearance of sweetness and wealth. And Carey does have that sweetness look, too sweet in fact, let’s wait to see the movie to judge if she can pull it. Regarding the steamy scenes, it’s all worked out. It’s a Hollywood movie and it needs to sell well, incredibly well, actually. But as someone who’s read the book I didn’t see the typical steamy scenes. I saw the desperation I felt every time I thought Daisy was maybe giving in to Gatsby and she wasn’t. They also come from the hidden desires of millions of readers through the years who’ve wanted her to give in, making Gatsby happy. Yes, Gatsby is more than a love story, I know, but it is the exploration of such a dark, twisted and desperate view of love that attracts me to the book every single time and every single time I get the same feeling. And the trailer really gave me that feeling. I hope the whole movie amplifies that a million times.

If apart from books you also like music, pay attention Lana del Rey’s Young and Beautiful song in the trailer. A dreamy combination!

Gift Ideas 2012: Books Adapted

One of the differences with last year’s Gift Guide is that I planned to broaden the range of recommendations. Of course, we all love reading and books but there is some great bookish stuff out there too that, at least I, enjoy almost as much as good book. Some of those things are movie adaptations, bookish movie adaptations. Do you like them?

1. Howards End (James Ivory; 1992)

Adapted from Howards End by E.M Forster. Review here.

This movie adaption is incredibly faithfull to the novel. It is so, so English: Emma Thompson and Helena Boham-Carter make great Schlegel sisters and their interpretations evoke the same feelings the characters do in the book. Review here.

2. The Harry Potter Series (Various Directors; 2001-2011)

Adapted from the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling.

I never finished the Harry Potter series, but die-hard fans love the movie adaptations as much as they love the books. For what I’ve seen, Daniel Radcliff has an uncanny resemblance to the Harry described in the book. Plus, I’ve heard they share the same birthday. Could it get any better?

3. The Lovely Bones (Peter Jackson; 2009)

Adapted from The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold.

I decided to read the book before watching the movie after reading Rachel Weisz was starring on the movie adaptation (she is one of my favourite actresses). Peter Jackson creates a Heaven and a state of mind for the main character that is contagious to the audience. Tears will surely roll down your face, but at the end, there will be hope.

4. The Constant Gardener (Fernando Mireilles, 2005)

Adapted from The Constant Gardener by John LeCarré.

Another Rachel Weisz pick, both the book and the movie changed my life: they made me realize how lucky I am to live in Europe, have two heatlhy, caring parents and access to any medical treatment. It also made me ashamed of being European and how we tolerate the pharmaceutical testing in Africa.

5. Cranford (Sue Birtwistle, Susie Conklin; 2007- ????)

Adapted from Cranford by Elizabeth Gaskell. Review here.

Winter is perfect to curl up in bed with a good blanket and a BBC adaptation. I don’t know how they do it, but they always create cozy, warm film adaptations and so long that they can allow you a relaxing evening. Cranford is such a warm novel in itself that this adaptation (although mixed with other Gaskell’s stories) has to be the perfect gitf.

Howards End (Film)

One of the reasons I was first attracted to E.M Forster’s Howards End was the movie. While spending an evening at IMDB, they suggested me, according to my recently visited pages, the 1992 movie by James Ivory. I must admit I am a huge fan of Mr. Ivory: when I was 12 I used to spend the evenings watching The Golden Bowl trying to decipher the symbolism and completely fascinated by Kate Beckinsale’s talent.

Last month I read the novel and I couldn’t wait to watch the film. I did last week and although I don’t like reviewing films for this blog, I think literary adaptations are an exception.

The film Howards End was directed by James Ivory in 1992, based on E.M Forster’s novel from 1912 and adapted to the screen by Ruth Prawer Jhabvala, winner of the Booker Prize in 1975 and an habitual in Ivory’s literary adaptations. It stars Emma Thompson as Margaret, Helena Boham-Carter as Helen, Anthony Hopkins as Mr. Wilcox and Vanessa Redgrave as Ruth Wilcox. Needless to say, they are all amazing actors whose talent has been proved and recognized internationally both before and after Howards End was released. It is their great performances that make the film even better, they clearly succeed at transmitting the characters’ essence. In terms of characters, the film turns all the characters into a more rounded ones, if that is possible. When reading the novel, I did not really understand Mr. Wilcox but thanks to Hopkins’ performance, I found him more accessible.

In terms of plot, the film faithfully follows the novel, ignoring only minor and secondary characters and scenes. For example, in the novel when the Schlegels first encounter Mr. Blast is at a concert. In the film only Helen is at that concert, it is a way of simplifying the plot so that the movie does not run too long and that is fine. However, there are a few changes regarding behaviour that were needed to make the movie more watchable: for example, Margaret kisses Mr. Wilcox when he calls her to see a flat. This does not happen at the novel, but I think it was necessary for the film, it needed to be updated for a modern audience. Also, Helen and Mr. Blast have a romantic encounter while rowing resulting on her little baby boy while in the novel they spend the night together at the hotel while Mrs. Blast is sleeping on a nearby room. I was not really content with this change but the gorgeous photography of the scene paid off.

Thematically, the film is as faithful as it is following the plot. Forster’s incredible descriptions are substituted by a breath-taking photography where the social tensions are clearly reflected by the different scenarios: from London to the English countryside, the choice of locations is perfect. One thing I found funny is the scene when Margaret asks Mr. Wilcox to spend the night at Howards End with Helen: although they are wearing spring/summer clothes, you can clearly see breath coming out of Thompson and Hopkins’ mouths as they talk as it usually happens in cold winter. I kept wondering how cold Emma must have felt with that wonderful but summery dress.

Finally, I would like to highlight Emma Thompson’s performance. She is one of those English actors I love because not only are they great professionals but also versatile and can easily move from a romantic comedy to classics such as Howards End, and A Room with a View. Apparently, she was a favourite of Ivory too and I can see why.

So, I would recommend the film to anyone looking for a long, cozy film to curl up with a blanket during a winter night. If you have not read the book, I think the movie clearly reflects its most important themes, characters and plot twists; and if you have read it, you will enjoy this faithful and high quality adaptation.