It's 1955. Frank and April Wheeler, are in the 'seven year itch' of their marriage; they're not happy. April has forgone her dream of being an actress, and Frank hates his job. One day, April suggests they move to Paris as a means to rejuvenate their life.Written by
I went to see this at an advanced screener in Leicester Square last night. Kate Winslett chatted about the film on stage afterward. I went as one of those people who'd read the book and consider that source material to be amongst the best literature I'd ever read. I was wondering if and how the film could match up. My prior concerns were about how accurate the film would be. Well, there's nothing to worry about there. Mendes has created a near carbon copy of the book, the locations, characters and scenes are all exactly as I 'saw' them on the page. Nothing (as far as I could tell) is portrayed out of order, no extra characters are introduced, and no primary characters are dropped or altered. The acting is 100% perfect. The mies-en-scene is perfect. Absolutely nothing could or should have been done differently. So why not 10/10? The problem lies in the fact that Yates' novel is a literary one, much of the essence of the experience of the story is realized by Yates with just the right turn of phrase or choice of word. How does a director set about depicting or capturing this visually? I don't think he really can, he needs to use cinematic tricks and devices to inject resonance, the same resonance Yates achieves with that turn of phrase. But in being so (probably rightly) concerned about being true to the source material, the film somehow comes up a little flat as a film going experience, a sort of American Beauty without the crucial stylistic bells and whistles. Kate Winslett said afterward that (interestingly) it was she who had brought the book and the project to her husband, not vice versa and that it took some consideration for Sam Mendes to convince himself that he hadn't already told this story before, and by the final credits, I too was thinking just that, it felt like I'd watched a prequel to American Beauty, but without the pizazz and the rapture and the delight. So, the book, 10/10, the film, 8/10.
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