The Girl on the Train – Official Teaser Trailer

Coming to cinemas in October is the much-anticipated film adaptation of The Girl on the Train: an elegantly written mystery that exposes the ugly truths of its characters, and through them, ourselves. On the one hand its a searing indictment of our propensity to make assumptions based on severely limited information – a mere glimpse, an overheard utterance, or in the case of Rachel, one of the novel’s three protagonists, a daily peek through her train window during her commute at a couple she doesn’t know, which results in her fantasizing about their lives. The novel provides a harsh look at the reality of alcoholism; the deliberating impact it can have on the various facets of our lives. And it also shines the spotlight on infidelity; how both the culprit and the victim live on through its resonances. Debut author Paula Hawkins entwines these components with the page-turning traits of a ‘whodunnit’, and in doing so, The Girl on the Train deserves its inevitable Gone Girl comparisons. Both deal with the simple question: how well do we truly know the ones we love? It’s a slow-burn mystery, but its inevitable explosion is well worth waiting for.

Are you looking forward to the release of the film?

Buy the book here…

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Fifty Shades of Grey Film Review

Fifty Shades of GreyWarning: While not overly explicit, this blog does acknowledge the existence of, and briefly discuss, sex. If you’re not keen to read a blog about such things, I suggest you temporarily avert your eyes.

I couldn’t attend the Fifty Shades of Grey preview, so fronted up for the 10am session on the day of the film’s release. I felt slightly dirty doing so, until I discovered the theatre was three quarters full. Seems I wasn’t the only who had the idea.

I’m not sure what weirded me out most about attending that session. That a girl was there watching it with her mother (no, really), the 70-year-old women who were absolutely creasing themselves with laughter towards the end of the film (I’m still kicking myself for not asking them about it once the film was over), or the older gentleman I saw there who gave his wife a playful smack on the bottom on the way out (I’m not going to lie: it repulsed me).

Also, the previews were bemusingly unsubtle and geared towards the largely straight lady audience. That is, hot guys and fairytale romance in the forms of Cinderella and Channing Tatum.

Although I saw the film as soon as I could, I’ve held off on posting my review for a few days, because I’ve been a little unsure my take was wide of the mark compared with most other reviews. You see, I didn’t think the film was terrible. I thought it was relatively fine. Ok. Watchable.

Thankfully, Helen Razer sort of said as much. So I now know I wasn’t the only one who thought that way. A long-time and rabid Fitty Shades hater, she was looking forward to tearing the film apart. Instead she termed it ‘disappointingly tolerable’.

Fifty Shades of Grey is the trilogy, and now film, people love to hate. Especially if they’ve neither read the books nor seen the film. The film itself attracted much debate before anyone had even seen a single trailer.

Which made me wonder if the film would be—is being—assessed fairly. My thinking is it should be assessed in relation to the books on which is it based. And, arguably, the books on which those books are based.

The books were terribly addicitive terrible fan fiction of terribly addictive terrible books. If that’s the measure, then I think the film did a decent job. They turned a sow’s ear of a book into a not-too-terrible film.

For starters, they reigned in the massive corniness, toned down the farcical, unbelievable stuff. These include Christian’s (Jamie Dornan) obsession with having Anastasia (Dakota Johnson) eat, and the annoyingly ridiculously large number of times Anastasia either bites her lip or says (more like a 50-year-old author than a Gen Y) ‘oh my’, or both.

Neither the director nor the actors had a lot to work with, and yet they did a better job of making Anna and Christian believable and relatable than Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson did before them.

I wasn’t familiar with either actor prior to this film so I was neutral on the skills they would or wouldn’t bring to the table. I felt both were less wooden than K-Pat and gave more nuanced performances than the script easily allowed.

The sex scenes were vanilla, yes. But so were the ones in the book. (Did I mention this film should be assessed in relation to the book?) As they would be with an unfolding relationship with a girl taking first forays into sex.

I find that more realistic than if they’d gone from zero to S&M contortions. That’s even before you consider the challenges of portraying sex on screen in a film that still needs to jump through censors’ hoops in order to gain mainstream and worldwide cinema release.

Also worth noting is that although there are plenty of issues with the film (and the books that precede it), it’s not quite the domestic violence symphony hysterical critics are claiming it to be.

For starters, both characters are slightly more believable. Christian is shown to be a little more damaged and a little less BDSM-obsessed two-dimensional. And, as this BuzzFeed article notes, the film went at least part way to giving Anastasia more agency and self-awareness than the books:

Christian famously presents Ana with a contract he wants her to sign that would establish the boundaries of their relationship. Which she won’t sign! She leaves him in the end. So I’m flummoxed […] Why are people fretting over Fifty Shades of Grey more than other movies where couples fall into bed and don’t have these sorts of conversations?

‘I put a spell on you, because you’re mine’ are the lyrics overlaying the opening scenes. We don’t see Grey’s face, reminiscent of a dentist’s ad. He’s exercising, getting ready for work, selecting a grey tie from his vast collection. When we first see Anastasia she looks uncannily similar to, and is even dressed like, Bella from Twilight. This is surely deliberate.

I’m not going to lie. The opening kind of set the tone for what’s an ok-ish film. Or at least a visually arresting one as the limits of the text didn’t limit the cinematography.

There were, of course, some moments even decent acting and cinematography couldn’t save. Anastasia’s fall into Christian’s office was terrible. I don’t know how many takes they did of that, but I find it hard to believe that was the best one. Or rather, I’d hate to have seen the ones that didn’t make the cut.

But there was a lot less emailing or texting than in the books, which was refreshing, because the books got bogged down in them. Or maybe that’s coming in the second book/film…

I got some LOLs from reading around the film, especially from BuzzFeed’s 141 Thoughts I Had While Watching “Fifty Shades of Grey”. I truly think I had the same 141 the author did. And yes, ‘I will launder this item’ is the best line of the film.

So, while I don’t want to get bogged down in the furore surrounding the books and the film (led largely by those who’ve read or watched neither), I will say the film is ok enough to watch. Or, at the very least, read the books and watch the film and draw your own conclusions.

Mockingjay: Part 1 (AKA All The Feelings)

MockingjayI turned up to watch the Mockingjay: Part 1 film today, its official day of release, without any prep. I’d like to say that’s because I deliberately withheld re-reading the book or reading advance film reviews, but the reason is much more pedestrian: I’ve been so otherwise occupied with speedbumps I’ve hit in life that I almost forgot today was the day the film was coming out.

I even turned up to the cinema two minutes after the start time and breathlessly asked the attendant if I could: a) still go in; and b) go to the bathroom first. She assured me yes on both counts: there were some 20 minutes of ads before the film itself began (that’s probably the first and only time I’ll be happy to hear that).

Consequently, I was hazy on the plot points that would be contained within this film, and even hazier as I knew this would be the first of two films. That’s because the final book in the trilogy was deemed too big to fit into one (plus I’m guessing Hollywood saw an opportunity to force us besotted, addicted fans to fork out moar money for moar moofie tix).

In Mockingjay: Part 1, Katniss and Finnick are struggling. The first scene picks up with them having tormented nightmares from which they seem unable to wake even when they’re awake.

Katniss and co. are hunkered down underground in semi safety in District 13. District 12, their home, has been bombed to oblivion, with few survivors. Outside, the rebellion against the Capitol is well under way. Peeta and Annie are still captive in the Capitol, with Peeta trotted out as a kind of golden-child propaganda.

The rebellion needs Katniss to go on camera to create some pro-rebellion mockingjay propaganda, but she’s so traumatised by all she’s experienced and so pre-occupied by the thought of needing to rescue Peeta that she wants nothing to do with it. Both Katniss and Finnick wish they were dead.

This film, like the book, kicks the tale up a notch of seriousness, with propaganda—storytelling, controlling messages, reframing stories in order to invoke emotion, allegiance, and a taking up of arms—central to its adrenalin- and emotion-wringing success.

It’s tense and oppressive. We see and feel it from the expressions on the characters’ faces and the enclosed, concrete bunker-like accommodation they’re cooped up in. The stellar cast that includes Woody Harrelson, Julianne Moore, and Donald Sutherland is also up to the challenging of conveying all these senses and issues and emotions (unlike, cough, the cast of such films as Twilight).

As a side note, I felt all the feelings when Philip Seymour Hoffman was on screen. My general lack of preparation meant I was especially less prepared to see him than I would otherwise have been, and he appears early in the film and pops in regularly throughout. He is magnificent, bringing depth and warmth and humour to a character that was for me rather two-dimensional in the books. The film’s final credits include a dedication to him, which he richly deserves.

Likewise, Woody Harrelson reprising Haymitch and Elizabeth Banks reprising Effie Trinkett bring new gravity to their characters. Neither can rely on the over-the-top acting options they had in the previous films, as in Mockingjay the usually sauced Haymitch is sober and the usually flamboyantly attired Trinkett is forced to wear the same androgynous, definitively unfashionable khaki garb as everyone else. Yet through muted performances, both actors managed to convey key information and humanise and endear us to their characters more than ever.

While this film is somber-er than the previous films (not that I’d ever call them ‘light’), there are some well-timed moments of wit. One moment includes a condition Katniss issues for agreeing to being the mockingjay propaganda lackey: her sister ‘gets to keep her cat’ (pets are forbidden in the largely militarised zone). Another includes the muttered ‘We interrupt your regularly scheduled horse manure’ as the rebels temporarily take over the Capitol’s broadcast. Yet another is Haymitch saying he ‘can never fully support the woman [President Coin, the District 13 leader] in light of the prohibition’ she has in place.

I can’t tell you where they split the book/films in two, but I can tell you I’d forgotten all about the moment so was suitably surprised when it happened. Now I commence the long wait until Part 2 comes out and wraps up the trilogy altogether. I imagine I’ll feel all the feelings when that occurs, albeit for entirely different, please-don’t-let-it-end reasons…

A Few Corpses Short of an Artery

Live fast, die youngVampire Academy
Bad girls do it well
Live fast, die young
Bad girls do it well

I’ll not deny I felt a fist pump-inducing thrill when MIA’s lyrics opened Vampire Academy’s film adaptation’s opening moments. It’s exactly the song that metes out the sass and sexiness we’ve come to know and love in the book series.

(I’ve blogged about this series a bunch of times here, so if you haven’t read the books, recommend peeling off to read those reviews and the books themselves before reading this one, because there’s some assumed knowledge in the pars that follow.)

I’ll also not deny I’d been beyond excited about the film’s impending release—relentlessly so, if you were to ask those around me upon whom I inflicted my enthusiasm. The day I got to preview the film, for instance, I bounded out of bed like the character of a Disney film and smiled at strangers on the street.

I simultaneously adopted the Madagascar ‘I like to move it, move it’ song as my motif, and sent it to around as if to say: See! This is how happy I am. It’s Vampire Academy film preview day!

All this precursor is to say I’ll not deny my hopes and expectations for the adaptation were, well, high. For that reason, I took along a friend to the preview who isn’t a Vampire Academy aficionado. Between the two of us, I figured, we’d obtain an objective review.

Sadly, though, I didn’t need my friend’s more measured take to surmise the film isn’t a great interpretation of the books. And that’s even before he leant across some four or five times to ask me what the heck was going on because he found the film hard to follow.

The Hunger Games film adaptations have been stellar. Even the Twilight films are comparatively better than this one. Especially by the end, they were giving us that knowing nod and wink and we were in on the jokes. So what are the issues with Vampire Academy?

The Hunger GamesFor starters, the script isn’t great. The film was brought to us by the guys responsible for Heathers back in the day and, more recently, Mean Girls, so I expected cleverness. Especially as the book itself is full of zingers (Rose is, after all, the kind of character who doesn’t have a filter and does have a lot of sass). But the lines are cheesy, in the cringe-worthy sense rather than the funny one. They attempt the nod and the wink at times, but we audience members are never really in on the joke. Which makes it downright awkward.

There are lines that do work (some of which come from the books). For example:

  • ‘Handcuffs?’ Rose asks, incredulously, when she awakes to find she’s handcuffed to the car, which implies she’s good enough to be capable of escape. ‘There’s gotta be a compliment in there.’
  • ‘Cue cafeteria scene. Sort of.’ We then cut to the Moroi’s feeding room.
  • ‘We can’t beat up everyone we have a problem with,’ Lissa says. ‘We can try,’ Rose replies.
  • ‘We live in a world where the monsters are real,’ Victor says.

But when I say ‘work’, I mean ‘make you go “huh, that’s sort of clever”’ rather than actually laugh out loud or want to seek out someone to high five.

Mostly, the lines make you cringe:

  • ‘Don’t worry, I don’t bite. Only literally.’

The acting isn’t great. You’d expect this from the younger, less-experienced actors. But I have to say the adults weren’t much better. The strongest performance came from Zoey Deutch, who plays protagonist Rose, but Lucy Fry, who plays her counterpoint Lissa, produced a lispy, lock-jawed accent that was distracting and not entirely believable.

The fight scenes, which I’d really been looking forward to—at least in part because the official social media account had been posting images of the actors doing some hardcore training to get in shape—were inauthentic and stylised to the point of being corny.

Think the ‘kapow’ that used to accompany the Batman and Robin fights—because that word actually popped into my head. The only one that went halfway to achieving that was the final fight scene involving Dimitri and another Guardian (I won’t go into detail). And that was really a case of far too little far too late.

Also, there is a stuffed toy fox that was incomprehensibly terrible. A taxidermied fox smeared with tomato sauce would have been a more realistic rendition. I understand that there can sometimes be budget constraints, but this was something embarrassingly else.

TwilightI didn’t absolutely hate this film, although from an objective perspective, I probably should have. If you aren’t a fan of the series—and probably even if you are—you definitely will.

But there were clearly fans in the preview screening, as evidenced by the audible gasps emitted Dimitri first appears on screen (I may have been one of the gaspers). I’d been dubious about the casting of him—he’s such a central character and one who looms large in many a girl’s eyes and heart—but I warmed to him enough to give him if not the thumbs up, then at least the ok (I will say, though, that he was a bit warmer and fuzzier than the Dimitri of the early books, and I’m not sure this is ok this soon in the series).

I wanted to love this film, and there were snippets I could. For instance, it was fantastic to see a series I’d found so rich suddenly realised on film; it was great to remember elements or small details I’d forgotten woven into the film’s dialogue or background.

Worth noting is the books improve as the series goes on (Rose, for instance, becomes less annoying, things heat up with her and Dimitri, and there’s less scene-setting and more story-telling, so the narrative’s gripping and fast-paced). The first book lays the introductory groundwork, so its film version has to do the same. If they follow the books’ improvements, future films would likely be better than this initial one.

Overall, though it pains me to write it, I have to admit this film is, as one of its characters says (or as I thought I heard them say), ‘a few corpses short of an artery’. Fans like me will see this film and any future ones that emerge because we can’t not, but we won’t be watching them because we should.

Review tickets thanks to Studiocanal.

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

Catching FireWaiting for the second instalment of The Hunger Games, Catching Fire, to come out was reminiscent of waiting for Christmas as a kid—I was so invested the wait was excruciating and interminable.

The agony was alleviated slightly by the social media-led arrival of Sesame Street’s The Hungry Games: Catching Fur, a genius-ly entertaining and educating spoof of the masterful ilk only Sesame Street could manage.

The spoof featured (and nailed) the three things I vaguely remembered from the book (it’s been a while since I read the trilogy, and even then I binged on them rather than taking time to fully absorb their content): fog, monkeys, and ‘tick tock’.

Catching Fire was probably my favourite of the three Suzanne Collins books. The Hunger Games hooked me in and laid out the foundations, but it is in Catching Fire that you really get to see the nuance and fraught complexity come in to play. Especially when it comes to the other tributes who, with the exception of Rue, are little known to and little understood by us.

In the Catching Fire, we see the long-term effects of ‘winning’ The Hunger Games as well as the selflessness and bravery of people working together for a greater cause. Catching Fire is dark, but it’s also grippingly hopeful.

Things are frosty in the beginning of the film—literally and figuratively. District 12 is cloaked in winter (I couldn’t help but think ‘winter is coming’) and Katniss, Gale, Peeta, and Haymitch are struggling with the aftermath of the games.

‘Lethal lovers’ Katniss and Peeta are learning the games don’t end when you get home, that you never win, you simply survive. They will be forced to play-act an epic love affair for eternity, something that sits awkwardly with them and that grates Gale, the original love interest who rounds out the triangle.

Katniss, Haymitch, and Peeta are together but so incredibly alone, trapped in their own heads (and nightly bad dreams). It is in this film that you truly appreciate why Haymitch self-medicates with alcohol.

I might be too wholly invested in this story, but I cried buckets throughout, kicking off at seeing an image of Rue broadcast behind her family. I continued when the first person, an older man, gives the three-fingered mockingjay salute and is punished brutally. The forced attendance by both Katniss and Peeta and the districts’ people during the victory tour were tense; ‘The odds are never in our favour’ graffiti was eerie. All of it was near-reality real.

The film does manage to wedge in some brief moments of comedy to take the edge off the darker mood. ‘Don’t invite him over, he’ll drink all your liquor’ Haymitch warns Katniss about one of the other tributes; ‘I never said she was smart’ he quips to a peacekeeper when she intervenes in a flogging.

I was intrigued, though, that some people laughed in the cinema during the reaping scene when it’s clear Katniss’ name will be the only one pulled out of the female pool. I found it not funny but bleak. But that’s a small and personal note not central to this review.

As with the first film, the costumes and characters are OTT without being OTT—we see a softer side to Effie and the on-stage interplay and stands against the Capital are goosebump-inducing. Katniss’ dresses are, as always, spectacular, and the vest she wears in the first few scenes is likely to spawn a fashion trend.

MockingjayThe ‘peacekeepers’ outfits are suitably imposing and austere. And the arena outfits are functional and full-body swimsuit-like, but suit the script. It reminds me that this series doesn’t go for the sexy options wherever possible, and I respect it for that.

That said, it would be remiss of me not to mention that Sam Claflin, who plays Finnick, is exceptionally cute. He’s a brilliant actor, more measured than the arrogant character in the book, which makes it easier for us to relate to and believe in the character. Excellent (eye-candy) casting right there.

I will say that the final shot that closes the film wasn’t strong and bordered on corny, but it does suitably set up the third book, the film adaptation for which we’re now going to have to wait another apparent eternity.

Although the filmmakers have stayed true to the books in the first two films, my hope is that they’ll deviate from the book for film three. Mockingjay lost the plot a bit, likely because Collins had never expected to need to stretch the story out to a trilogy.

Either way, I’ll pass the time re-reading the books and re-watching the two films. And also getting onto the next Richelle Mead book, Fiery Heart, which was just released and arrived at my house today.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower

The Perks of Being a WallflowerIt’s a little unusual for an actor to pitch a film to film producers, but so strong was Emma Watson’s desire to see one of her favourite books adapted to the screen she did just that (she says so in her Rookie Mag interview with fellow luminary, Tavi Gevinson).

I have immense, infinite respect for Watson and Gevinson (and Natalie Portman, while I’m mentioning outstandingly talented creative females who also carry themselves and their social, cultural, environmental, and political awareness and empathy with aplomb). They’re talented but grounded, inspiring but inspired by others, pursuing projects because they’re interested in them, curious about the world, and generous in their praise of others and their work.

So when Watson went so far as to campaign to get The Perks of Being a Wallflower up, I figured the book and film were worth checking out. I missed The Perks of Being a Wallflower both when it first appeared as a bestselling book and when it later, thanks in part to Watson, made it to cinemas. But it was on the peripheries of my awareness and something I always figured I’d need to explore.

That time came last night when, laid up by my first ever bona fide back injury (I blame getting old and walking oddly due to a recently operated on knee) and using it as a not-entirely-ofay excuse to not meet my encroaching mountain of deadlines, I decided now was as good a time as ever to embark on it.

I did what I normally never do: started with the movie. Not being able to compare the film to the book, I’ll likely attract your book-was-better-than-the-film ire, but I will say that, whatever its flaws or foibles, I enjoyed the film rather much.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower is undoubtedly a book slash* film for high school students, especially those grappling with the complexities of finding their way in the wider world. But it’s also a book slash film for writers.

The protagonist, Charlie (Logan Lerman), is a sensitive, creative teen crippled by excruciating anxiety and who aspires to be a writer. He opens the film and spends much of the narratorial exposition writing, first by hand and later by typewriter (and yes, the typewriter unveiling was, for typewriter obsessives such as me, utterly and entirely thrilling).

To Kill A MockingbirdCharlie has a Dead Poets Society-calibre English teacher (played by Ben Affleck) who identifies his writing interest and talent and gently encourages him. He recommends books for Charlie to read, loaning and even at one stage giving him his original copies.

These include To Kill a Mockingbird, The Great Gatsby, The Catcher in the Rye, Walden, and On the Road. Charlie himself later gifts his much-loved book collection to Sam (Emma Watson), the girl with whom he’s hopelessly in love. It’s heartfelt, soul-exposing stuff.

Legend has it (and when I say ‘legend’, I mean ‘Wikipedia’) that Stephen Chbosky was trying to write a very different kind of book when the phrase ‘I guess that’s just one of the perks of being a wallflower’ popped, muse-led-like, into his brain. It sent him down a semi-autobiographical writing path to create an epistolary novel (one written as a series of documents such as diary entries and newspaper articles—thanks again for that gem, Wikipedia) for which I think we’re all rather grateful.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower’s popularity grew just the way every author hopes it to: via word of mouth. It also attracted the guaranteed-to-make-you-an-elicit-bestseller attention of the Christian movement, which was concerned by the sexual themes and portrayals of drug use. If I ever manage to publish a book of my own, I sincerely hope Family First, the Anti-Vaccination Network, or organisations of their similarly vocal and misguided ilk try to get it banned.

There’s a bunch of book-related trivia contained within The Perks of Being a Wallflower, not least that Charles Dickens was the author who created both the paperback book and the serial. And I found myself smiling a lot throughout the film (I found myself crying, too. But that’s not the focus of this blog), and never more so than at its end when Affleck’s English teacher character asks the class who’ll be reading for pleasure over the holidays.

The Great GatsbyThat’s a big question to ask a teenager and an even bigger one for them to answer in the company of their peers. It’s one that made me proud as a nerdy writer who was a nerdy, book-loving reader inspired and encouraged by some fantastic English teachers along the way. Here’s hoping The Perks of Being a Wallflower—both the book and the film—continues to inspire a few more future and current writers.

*As a side note, I’m loving this analysis of the new ways we’re using ‘slash’—I’ve been doing it for a while, but hadn’t realised I was part of a phenomenon.

Breaking Dawn and We Need To Talk About Kevin (Part 2)

KevinPart 2

Going from Breaking Dawn to We Need To Talk About Kevin (from here on in referred to as ‘Kevin’) was something I was a little worried about—the two don’t exactly go hand in hand.

Moreover, finishing with Kevin, a film that examines the maternal aftermath of a Columbine-style school massacre, was likely to put a bit of a dampener on the Breaking Dawn frivolity and fluff. After all, the controversial, award-winning book by Lionel Shriver, a woman whose name has her often confused for a man, had utterly destroyed me.

The book wrestles with myriad complex and taboo topics, not least whether killers are born or made and whether it’s a mother’s fault if her son turns out to be very, very bad. The narrative base is that accomplished business-woman and traveller Eva Khatchadourian never quite bonds with her son, Kevin. The book charts this difficult relationship.

It offers a subjective, guilt-ridden, hindsight-is-a-beautiful-thing analysis on the before and after: before, Kevin is a difficult child; after, he is a jailed killer of his fellow school students, whom he slayed in the school gymnasium. The tale is told through Khatchadourian’s diary-like letters to her husband, Kevin’s father, during which she says ‘We need to talk about Kevin’.

I still didn’t know what I thought about the book, which I read years ago, when I saw the film just last week. It was the kind of book that floored and haunted me simultaneously, with Shriver weaving a complex world not where one person is good and another evil, but one where there are shades of grey on top of shades of grey on top of shades of grey.

What I did know is that although she wouldn’t have come to mind as the person best cast as Khatchadourian, as soon as I heard Tilda Swinton was I was absolutely certain there was no one more perfect to play that role. And perfect she was.

Kevin was always going to be difficult to translate to screen because it’s wholly introspective, based on the protagonist’s penned letters about her thoughts and feelings. Swinton was simply magic as Khatchadourian, not overplaying it, but conveying loneliness, horror, and self- and socially-inflicted torture with such nuance I could watch her and her alone all day.

Unfortunately, while Swinton was flawless, the film as a whole struggled with the translation difficulties. The mentally tormenting coulda, would, shoulda of the book’s letters were hard to verbalise, in particular, as Khatchadourian spent much of the film on her own.

I entered the film armed by enough tissues to cater for me and three friends—one of whom who’d read the book and been similarly affected; two who knew not what they were about to encounter. It’s telling, then, that not one of us needed a tissue. Nor did we spend hours, post-movie, dissecting its angles (instead we talked non-stop about the aforementioned Breaking Dawn).

But I will say that the film was exquisitely shot. One friend replied ‘Uhoh’ when I told her that. ‘If you’re commenting on the cinematography,’ she said, ‘you weren’t really taken on the journey.’ No, I sadly wasn’t, but I did feel that I was watching beautiful, otherwise impressive art for the most part.

The recurring use of red, for instance, was well executed. As was the composition of the shots. The handwashing had hallmarks Lady Macbeth’s ‘out damn spot’. The moments that highlighted and compounded Khatchadourian’s isolation, such as the vandalism of her house and the smashing of her carton of eggs, were perfectly chosen.

The appearance of the bow and arrow set and father-son bonding as Kevin learnt to use it was made all the more eery and sinister by the seemingly fun sequence within which it was set. The lecherous co-worker who turns nasty when politely rebuffed as well as the moment Khatchadourian realises her son was not the victim but the perpetrator, courtesy of spotting some distinctive bike locks he’d used to barricade his victims in, were outstanding.

Unfortunately, those moments weren’t enough to convey the subtleties of the book and its issues—a kind of ‘the book’s better than the movie’ scenario. So, while I’d definitely recommend seeing Kevin, I’d recommend even more strongly reading the book.

Breaking Dawn and We Need To Talk About Kevin (Part 1)

Breaking DawnAs a big reader, it’s rare for me to catch two films in a year much less two in 24 hours. But that’s what I managed last Thursday, sacrificing sleep in order to see two films I’ve long, long been waiting to see: Breaking Dawn and We Need To Talk About Kevin.

Both were much-anticipated adaptations of bestselling books. Both were films I knew would be, for vastly different but no less complex reasons, difficult to translate to the silver screen.

I’ll tackle each in this two-part blog, starting with Breaking Dawn, which is part one of a two-part film adaptation of Stephanie Meyer’s final vampire-romance hit series. I’ll start tackling it by saying: OMG is was bad but gold.

Part 1

Fans of Meyer’s series will admit that Breaking Dawn the book bordered on—if not tipped over into—the ridiculous. Critics of it will say that the whole series did. Nevertheless, the pregnancy with the half-human, half-vampire baby, the uber-juvenile ‘Renesmee’ naming (seriously, that’s the kind of name you make up when you’re 12), and the imprinting took it to a whole new, previously inconceivable level. I think it was a case of an author becoming too successful and no editor being game to reign her in.

Nor was I sure how the film would handle what had been silly enough on paper, especially as its lead actors weren’t known for their strong performances. Oh, and I was desperate to see Bella’s wedding dress.

It’s become something of a tradition that I go to the midnight screening by myself and I loved that the cinema broke into spontaneous applause when the film started. And I laughed out loud when Jacob took his shirt off less than 20 seconds in. Seriously, that’s faster than even in the trailer we’ve all obsessively been watching for months and made the price of the ticket worth it there and then.

Even better, it continued to be good in its traditional, so-bad-it’s-good, laughing-at-itself way. The wedding was done well. Bella and Edward both looked hot. I didn’t hate the dress, although I’ll admit I didn’t like the front of it—‘frontally offensive’ was how my friend Carody later described it.

The honeymoon was romantic, even if it was slightly too long—truthfully, though, after three books/movies of no action and bucketloads of sexual tension, had they skimped on that there might well have been an in-cinema riot.

Bella looked suitably gaunt and anorexic during the pregnancy and the aspects of the baby breaking her from the inside out were cleverly and correctly underplayed. Even the imprinting part wasn’t too corny and, in fact, the naming part, which they cleverly took the p*ss out of, warranted a wry smile and a sigh of relief—they showed that they too know how stupid the name is.

Sure, there were some OTT moments. The CGI werewolves, which haven’t worked at the best of times, had a serious, heckle-raised showdown that was so lame all dramatic tension was rendered completely undone.

The dummy they used during the whole CPR scene was quite obviously a dummy. And Bella’s concave stomach was never going to pass for pregnant—I think every girl in the universe secretly despised Kirsten Stewart in that ‘oh look at how impossibly perfect my body is, but I’m going to pretend I’m pregnant’ scene.

Mostly, though, the film took us through the book with a nod and a wink. It even included a great scene and a joke after the final credits that editors or sticklers for spelling, punctuation, and grammar would enjoy. I can’t wait for Part 2.