It was bound to happen sometime and it has with my third and final book to movie challenge title. The film has really, really annoyed me …..
Not that it’s a bad film. Maggie Smith and Bob Hoskins together as Judith and Madden are very good indeed. Maggie Smith won the BAFTA for best actress and the pair of them won the Evening Standard British Film Award for best actress and actor.
No, it’s not the performances that have got under my skin. It’s the additions to Brian Moore’s plot.
The book is absolutely marvellous. This was Moore’s debut novel and it won the Author’s Club First Novel Award. It is, without any sense of hyperbole, that I declare it a masterpiece. Pitch and pace, dialogue and action are controlled, measured and revelatory in a I-can-hardly-bear-to-watch way. There’s a circularity between the first and final scene that adds to the poignancy and tragedy of the whole.
So what’s the problem with the film.
1) Judith has issues which she is trying to address. The nature of her problem is not explicitly revealed until the mid-point of the novel and that makes it more shocking. Yet the film makers chose to reveal it in the opening scene of the film.
2) The symbolic circularity contained in first and final pages of the novel is destroyed by a completely pointless addon – a semi-reconciliatory scene between Judith and Madden, which adds nothing and destroys much. As indeed does the final film sequence in which Judith leaves the hospital ….
3) Judith’s acquaintance, Moira, is the only person who realises the role she plays in easing Judith’s loneliness. Yet they are not really friends and Judith continues the acquaintance simply because there is noone else. Yet during her meltdown she confesses to Moira that she never really liked her. Despite this slap in the face, Moira continues to support Judith and provides for her in ways undreamt of. A living breathing examply of Christian charity. The film keeps the “I never liked you” scene but shifts it until after Moira has made provision for Judith’s care. Diluting, in my mind, her act of charity.
I accept that book and film are different and changes must be made to suit. But I can’t understand why these changes were made. They dilute the novel’s impact. Obviously the film makers felt Moore’s plot was too depressing and needed some lightening. Well, I’m not swallowing that for a moment!
The book scored a perfect . Full review on themoorethemerrier – a blog I’ve started just to discuss Brian Moore’s novels – all 20 of them! Because that’s the legacy of this Reading The Author challenge. I’m hooked to Moore’s storytelling and I can’t stop now. A fallen woman – just like Judith!