Is the movie ever better than the book?

I’m quite certain there must be some mediocre book that was made into a great film but I can’t for the life of me think of one. Anyone? Can someone put me out of my misery here?

The reverse, obviously, is a commonplace occurrence. Most recently, Teenager Daughter and I were disappointed by the movie Me Before You based on the satisfying weepie by Jojo Moyes. The Martian by Andy Weir seemed like the most cinematic of books but the movie was, to be frank, shite. Gillian Anderson in Edith Wharton’s The House of Mirth was abysmal. Captain Corelli’s Mandolin (by Louis de Bernières) particularly broke my heart.

I wonder whether some people are avid readers mostly because they happen to be very good at imagining the characters, the dialogue and the action inside their head.Then, like playing the piano or piping royal icing, the more you do it the better you get. Is that what it means to be a good reader?

That might explain why it’s so important to start while you are young and willing to accept fairytales as reality. I remain tragically gullible. I take everything literally and believe every word that anyone says to me. I’m an easy target but I am a good reader.

Anyway, where was I? Oh yes, the BBC make brilliant dramatisations. That is probably because they are just brilliant but also because they make six or eight or even twelve part series and they put everything in. If a dramatisation takes as long to watch as it took to read the book you are off to a good start.

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I had detected recently a bit of buzz about a book called The Reader on the 6.27 by Jean-Paul Didierlaurent (great name, eh? Go on, say it in your head and roll that last R). The interesting thing was that every review I came across compared it to a movie –Amélie – rather than any other book.

It’s a book about books, about book writers and book lovers and good readers but it’s not like any other book. The movie that plays in your head as you read it feels like a sweet, French film.

It’s also very short, short enough (I think) to squeeze the whole lot of it into a film. I’m really hoping it will be made, made in France and made in French. I think there is a good chance that this good book could be a great film.

Click to read full book review…

 

18 thoughts on “Is the movie ever better than the book?

  1. I read Le Liseur de 6h.27 in French and I am unsurprised that you found a little Amelie lurking …. the French are magicians at these types of almost non-story stories …. these exquisite little imaginings that don’t lead to a grandiose ending but which in their own hands translate magically to the screen. Of course one would expect me to say that but I did enjoy it very much …. I will be interested to read the translation.

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      1. When in France I force myself to read in French which can be a labour of love …. actually this wasn’t but when my husband presented me with a heavy tome about the fellow who led the resistance in Grenoble I did have the wrong sort of a heart flutter! I’m delighted to have prompted a good idea for a pressie …. I have my uses 😉

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      2. Let me chat to a couple of friends (one French with teens and the other English expatriated with teens) and come back to you. I myself am a slave to Diner Presque Parfait which is French ‘Come Dine With Me’ and possibly the bitchiest show you will EVER see ….

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  2. I saw The Silver Linings Playbook twice and loved it both times. Then I read the book… and was disappointed. The film is far better!
    I think that is the only time that’s happened to me. And I’m not sure whether it’s only the case because I saw the movie first (I would usually read the book first).
    I really enjoyed The Reader on the 6.27 and didn’t think of the Amelie comparison until just now! 🙂

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  3. Totally agree about Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, what a travesty that film was! Child 44 was also a bit of a disappointment & Gone Girl, in both cases the big twist was poorly handled by the film. And don’t get me started on Matilda, it is a constant irritation to me that she still has her powers at the end. I kind of felt the whole point was she didn’t need them anymore!
    The only time I’ve ever felt a film was truly better than the book was The Devil wears Prada, I love the film and the book was a chore to finish. There are many other’s where the films are just ok, I think the truth is wherever possible you should watch then read, a book adds, a film rarely does.

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  4. I think the worst recent movie adaptation would have to be Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. Maybe my teenage daughter and I made the mistake of reading the book to get us in the mood for the movie, and it was still too fresh in our minds. Film was abysmal!

    I think ‘The Fantastic Mr Fox’ did a good job on Roald Dahl’s story though, and even improved it in some ways. I’d like to watch ‘Reader on the 6.27’ now that you’ve compared it to Amelie, which I loved.

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    1. You have a good point there. I think children’s movies fare better. I love Fantastic Mr. Fox. Clooney was just perfect. I’ve neither read now watched Miss Peregrine’s Home but I might add it to Middle Girl’s Christmas list.

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