As I was facing a Saturday night alone with a pint of Ben and Jerry’s, I turned to the interwebs for something to entertain me. It turns out that they recently adapted the Nick Hornby novel Juliet, Naked. Last April when I went to Taiwan I bought that novel to read on the excruciatingly long flight. (No, really, it was thirteen hours.) I was drawn to the off-beat plot of a woman in a dead-end relationship who starts up an accidental correspondence with her boyfriend’s musical idol. But I found it to be pretty boring. The writing was bland and it dragged, not really giving me anything to connect to. I got through maybe a third before moving on to something else. That’s why you always put multiple books on your Kindle before flying to the other side of the world, am I right?
So, why would I want to watch the movie you ask. The book is always better than the movie, right? They even have t-shirts that say “The book was better,” so everyone knows it. Well, call me crazy but I’m squarely in the camp of Not Necessarily.
Books and movies are different mediums. Some stories work really well in book form and lose something in translation. I’m sure you can find many a rant online about why your favorite book didn’t fare well in Hollywood. And a lot of times that’s true.
I heard great things about that movie The Notebook. Everybody loved it and it was just the most romantic and beautiful love story. As any good reader I said, “I’ll read the book first.” So I did and it was…terrible. Oh, M. Goodness, so overblown and melodramatic. I was expecting more from Nicolas Sparks, having seen the film version of Nights in Rodanthe, which was pretty good if you’re into that kind of thing. So what was I missing? I came to the realization that some authors and their stories are just better suited to film. I think Nicolas Sparks is one of them.
So that brings me back to Juliet, Naked. I watched it and really enjoyed it. Everything that was flat on the page was bright on screen. The connections between the characters were genuine and not overdone. I particularly connected with Annie. She felt real and believable. It’s not your typical rom-com and if you find yourself with a Saturday night in, I recommend it. I also recommend High Fidelity, another Nick Hornby novel that was adapted in 2000. I’ve never read the book so you’ll have to make your own judgement there.
I have seen some really bad adaptations (I’m looking at you, It) but I’ve also seen some good ones. I may be standing alone, but I’ll stand up for those films that are truly better than the book. Always is a strong word, but life has taught me that there are always exceptions that prove the rule.