Friday 24 November 2017

Page-turner to premiere: new book-to-film greats

Literature has always been a rich seam to mine, but new fiction may yield some truly great movies, writes Tanya Sweeney

Unfolding horror: ‘The Girl with All the Gifts’ was adapted from the MR Carey novel
Unfolding horror: ‘The Girl with All the Gifts’ was adapted from the MR Carey novel

'The best zombie film since '28 Days Later' is high praise indeed for a new film, but then avid bibliophiles already know that 'The Girl With All The Gifts' is a tale with a difference.

Adapted from the smash hit novel by MR Carey and starring Paddy Considine, Glenn Close and Gemma Arterton, the film (out on September 23) is set in a near future, where humanity has been decimated by flesh-eating 'hungries'. Only children seem immune to its effect, and a small group of youngsters is studied in the remote countryside by scientists. One little girl, Melanie, stands out from the others, and is fiercely protected by her teacher Miss Justineau. And in determining the future humanity, both have quite the battle on their hands.

The book has already taken the sci-fi community by storm, and producers are confident that the whip-smart film will enthral moviegoers and win a whole new fanbase.

It's the first film out of the gate as a bumper season of book adaptations kicks off. From Colm Toibin's 'Brooklyn' and Emma Donoghue's 'Room' to Cheryl Strayed's 'Wild' and John Ridley's '12 Years A Slave', movie executives love looking towards the bestseller lists for inspiration. Already this year, we've enjoyed an embarrassment of literary riches, from Jojo Moyes' 'Me Before You' and Roald Dahl's 'The BFG' to,…eh, 'Mike & Dave Need Wedding Dates' (written by brothers Mike & Dave Stangle).

And now that the summer blockbuster season is winding down and making way for early Oscar contenders and more cerebral offerings, fiction fans are in for a real treat as several bestsellers have recently been reimagined and given the big-screen treatment. Given that it's almost always a good idea to read the book before watching the film, here are the titles to ask for in your local library…

1. Brain on Fire (out late 2016)

Commuting trouble: Emily Blunt in a scene from Girl On The Train
Commuting trouble: Emily Blunt in a scene from Girl On The Train

Tralee native Gerard Barrett - the man behind 2014's sleeper hit 'Glassland' - has teamed up with Charlize Theron, who will produce the adaptation of Susannah Cahalan's memoir 'Brain On Fire: My Month Of Madness'. Chronicling Cahalan's life as a journalist battling a rare autoimmune disorder and veering wildly from catatonia to violence, 'Brain On Fire' will star Chloe Moretz in the lead role (after Dakota Fanning left the project). The film premiered at the Toronto Film Festival earlier this month to positive reviews, meaning that Barrett's latest project is one of the Irish industry's big hopes for 2016.

2. Girl On The Train (out October 7)

Paula Hawkins' psychological thriller, about a heavily drinking woman who sees something untoward through a train window on her local commute, became the 'Gone Girl' of 2015. Little wonder, then, that the film rights were snapped up before one could say 'another book with the word Girl in it'. With the action moving from London to New York, Emily Blunt will take on the role of troubled divorcee Rachel Watson, and will be ably abetted by an all-star cast including Justin Theroux, Luke Evans and Lisa Kudrow. The lead character has shapeshifted a bit too. The overweight Rachel in the book has given way to Emily Blunt's typical Hollywood (read: not really extreme) makeunder.

3. The Glorious Heresies (out 2017)

Galway-based novelist Lisa McInerney is already basking in glory after winning a slew of awards (including the Bailey's Prize), and her debut could see her becoming the toast of Tinseltown, too. 'The Glorious Heresies' has been optioned for TV in a deal with boutique TV production company Fifty Fathoms. Julian Farino, the man behind shows such as 'Entourage' and 'Sex & The City', will direct and executive produce a series adaptation of 'The Glorious Heresies', a book he said was "made for the screen". McInerney will be responsible for adapting her novel. Asked who might play the lead roles, the author said: "No idea or tips or anything on who might be cast. Some Corkonians, hopefully. Speculate away! I wonder what Cillian's up to these days." The ball's in your court, Mr Murphy…

4. The Light Between Oceans (out November 4)

Much has already been said about the on-screen chemistry between Michael Fassbender and Alicia Vikander (lovers in real life)… but did you know that the film existed as a heart-wrenching novel first? ML Steadman's book is the tale of a lighthouse keeper and his wife, who discover a baby and a dead body off the coast of their home in Australia. Some are already saying that a brooding lighthouse keeper is the role that Kerry native Fassbender was born to play.

5. A Monster Calls (out January 2017)

Liam Neeson teams up with Sigourney Weaver and Felicity Jones for this Patrick Ness fantasy bestseller. A young boy has problems with local bullies, and deals with his sorry lot in life by inventing a world filled with monsters and other outlandish creatures. Ness' world already jumps off the page, and his imaginative scope is likely to work well with a big film budget.

6. Fantastic Beasts & Where To Find Them (out November 18)

Given that JK Rowling has revisited the Harry Potter universe, it's safe to assume that anticipation for this particular film will be running at fever pitch. In it, Eddie Redmayne will star in what's already being mooted as a trilogy about Newt Scamander, author of the textbooks that Harry and his pals study at Hogwarts.

7. The Circle (out early 2017)

Dave Eggers took a stab at imagining a dystopian world in which a Google-style tech behemoth pretty much runs the universe, and it's a considered, intriguing tale that is ripe for awards season glory. Emma Watson plays Mae, the cynical newcomer. John Boyega and Tom Hanks co-star.

Irish Independent

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