Posts Tagged ‘Emily Giffin’
The Book Vs. The Movie
It’s always a tricky process bringing a much-beloved novel to the silver screen. With the limitations of time (2 hours, unless you’re Peter Jackson), and the overwhelming need to keep the folks who haven’t read the book as engaged as those who have, screenwriters are forced to walk a fine line between telling the story practically word for word (Harry Potters 1 & 2 are a good example of this) and capturing the essence of the story while changing around a few things (Harry Potter 3). The good screenwriters will come out of this relatively unscathed by the folks who loved the book in question. The great ones will inspire those who haven’t actually read the book to run to their nearest Barnes and Noble.
Jennie Snyder, the screenwriter of Something Borrowed, is neither good, nor great. In fact, I’m half-wondering if she even bothered to actually read the book at all. Though Something Borrowed the movie shares the characters and the basic premise (Maid of Honor sleeps with BFF’s fiance and the two realize they’re in love), the rest of Snyder’s screenplay was a heartbreaking farce of Emily Giffin’s hard work. I don’t know what I watched, exactly, but it wasn’t Something Borrowed.
Warning, there are a few spoilers ahead….
My main problem with the movie lies in the presentation of the central concept itself. Yes, boinking your BFF’s fiancé is wrong, there’s no two ways about it. However, where Giffin presents a page turner of moral dilemma, Snyder leaves no room for the viewer to even ponder the question. Snyder is firmly Team Rachel, and does everything in her power to make sure that viewers are beat over the head with that idea right from the start. How does she do this? By turning Darcy into an egotistical shrew with no redeeming value, that’s how.
Don’t get me wrong, Giffin’s Darcy is self-centered, too. However, with Giffin’s Darcy, you get moments of redemption that makes you see why Dex is conflicted about leaving her. Snyder’s Darcy is just a narcissist. This is particularly apparent in her relationship with Ethan. In the book, Ethan is firmly ensconced in London (they combined Ethan and Hillary here, putting him in NYC and giving him the Greek Chorus role) hearing about everything from Rachel’s point of view. He seems to understand Rachel’s resentment, but it’s also clear he has a soft spot for his old, misguided pal Darcy. In turn, when Rachel mentions Ethan, it’s clear that Giffin’s Darcy may not be interested in an involved relationship but she has a mild interest in keeping up with him. Though Snyder clearly wrote Something Borrowed with the idea of following it up with Something Blue, she shot herself in the foot by presenting Darcy’s view of Ethan as an annoyance who has to be dealt with rather than the safe haven he eventually ends up being.
Darcy, as presented by Snyder, is such a one-dimensional caricature, Snyder had to invent a reason for Dex to stay with her without looking like he was only into her for one thing. What she comes up with, is a chronically-depressed mother who seems to be “improving” with the excitement of the wedding. Yes, Dex’s moral dilemma actually boils down to I-love-Rachel-but-if-I-leave-Darcy-Mama’s-going-to-off-herself.
* Facepalm *
Snyder also thought it was funny to change Marcus from a charming Georgetown grad to a stoner-type and Claire into this annoyingly eager little chippy who is totally obsessed with Ethan. Though Darcy still attempts to throw Rachel and Marcus together, her machinations fall flat in the movie because Rachel is simply too damn smart for Marcus. On the Ethan/Claire side, they actually resorted to Ethan telling her he was gay to get her off his back (so to speak). Again, Ethan and Claire as Giffin wrote them, were way too smart to resort to these sophomoric tricks.
What breaks my heart most about this whole thing is that other reviewers (mostly male) have decided that if the movie is based on a book, the problem automatically lies with the source material. That’s crazy talk. Anyone who remembers the war between Anne Rice and the producers of Interview with a Vampire over casting Tom Cruise as Lestat knows how little creative control an author actually has when they sell the rights to their books. I don’t know the details of Emily Giffin’s rights deal, but I do know that she wasn’t listed as a primary screenwriter. That suggests that she didn’t have control over the final product. To blame Giffin is an insult to her and the millions of readers who love her work.
I wanted to love this movie. I wanted to put it on the DVD shelf with Bridget Jones’s Diary, the Harry Potters, Clueless, and all the other cinematic adaptations that have lived up to the books I loved before them. On some level, it was an adorable romantic comedy. I adore Ginnifer Goodwin and John Krasinksi in anything they do, and it’s always great to see Ashley Wiliams working. The entire cast did a wonderful job with the material they were given, and the cinematography really does put New York in its best possible light. With any other title, I probably would have enjoyed it; with the title it had, it was something I borrowed I wish I could have returned.
By day, Elle Filz is an IT geek in Baltimore, MD. By night, you can either find her singing karaoke or jotting down notes for her next women’s fiction story. She is also an aspiring Betty Crocker-type who thanks God every day that a fireman lives next door.
~ By Melina Kantor
And Happy April! Here’s hoping none of you have been fooled (at least too badly)!
As always, we’re back with our chick lit roundup to kick off the weekend:
Emily Giffin also made the news, with further proof of the power of the chick lit community. On April 12th, she’ll be participating in the Chick Lit Lavender Luncheon which will raise funds for children suffering from cancer. Nice going, Emily.
And, last but not least, Jessica and Elizabeth Wakefield (that’s right, the twins of Sweet Valley High fame who, for many, were our first exposure to the concept of the chick lit heroine) are back! But you probably already know that. What do you think about this? Will you be spending the weekend devouring the new book? Let us know!
(Thanks to Deb McIntyre for the link!)
Have a great weekend!
Melina writes contemporary women’s fiction with a pinch of oregano and a dash of chutzpah. By day, she is an elementary school computer teacher. You can visit her athttp://melinakantor.com.
A Writerly Review
I am now officially an Emily Giffin fan. Not like Giffin needs me, a contrarian who willfully bypassed her early New York Times bestsellers: Something Borrowed, Something Blue, Baby Proof and Love the One You’re With. I started with Heart of the Matter, released in May, 2010.
The title neatly captures the central plot question. When hearts face the ultimate test, what will matter most?
Tessa, thirty-something, has given up a professorship to devote her attention to her family: two perfect children and a handsome cosmetic surgeon husband.
Valerie, a single mom who put herself through law school after her son’s birth in order to offer him a better-than-average life, faces serious challenges when her son falls into a campfire and suffers third-degree burns.
Nick, a compassionate surgeon who specializes in treating pediatric burn patients, is not only Tessa’s husband and the father of her children, but Valerie’s hope for her son’s recovery.
Who’s not to love?
Tessa and her friends have discussed what they might do if one of their husbands cheated on them. As is the way in fiction, the question morphs from hypothetical to real, throwing Tessa into a tailspin.
Giffin alternates first-person point of view storytelling between the wronged wife and the other woman, so you know from the first tense meeting at the hospital that Nick and Valerie are attracted to each other, and that Tessa’s awful discovery is coming.
There were times when I had to put the book down because I was emotionally drained. But I had to pick it up again to find out who got what in the end.
A writer’s perspective
Giffin takes the love triangle, a soap opera staple, and delivers a thoughtful read. It would have been easy to follow a trite and predictable path; easy to wallow in sentimentality; easy to lay all the blame on any one of the three lovers and end the story there.
Instead, Giffin clarifies the characters’ yearnings so that I’m able to feel sympathy for the wronged wife, the other woman, and even the cheating man. She draws us out with the lovers onto their emotional ledges—and talks us all down from the edge of despair.
I didn’t believe that she could possibly deliver a happily-ever-after ending for Tessa, Valerie, and Nick, but she does. (And no, it’s not an erotic threesome.)
But is HOTM chick lit?
Shoe shopping only gets a single mention, so HOTM definitely doesn’t qualify by that chick lit yardstick. Nor is it a lighter-than-air read about ditzy young women.
It is a novel about two realistic women in a situation that forces them to examine their deepest desires and come up with their own resolutions. Despite the heart-wrenching calamity, each of the three lovers comes to terms with a happily-ever-after that suits their characters.
The book’s cover, a not-pastel-but-still-feminine purple, may be an indication that it’s something of a transitional novel—and the transition may be in the chick lit subgenre. Giffin isn’t the only novelist made famous by chick lit tales who has turned to more serious subject matter. And yet, in the end, there’s happily-ever-after potential, which prevents the book from falling into the literary range on my personal dismal-o-meter.
Heart of the Matter is available new and used, in hardback, paperback, Kindle and audio versions. There’s even a discussion guide for your book club.
Ooh—it’s been nearly a year since Heart of the Matter came out! A quick look at Giffin’s web site and facebook fan page reveals that her next novel, SOBO, will be coming out May 6. What does SOBO stand for? No idea. I’ll find out later this year.
In the meantime, I hope Giffin enjoys her writing career and keeps the exploratory reads coming.
What’s your opinion?
Bonus – Hear what Emily Giffin herself has to say about her book:
Chris Bailey’s writing for hire has appeared online, in numerous U.S. newspapers and in mailboxes across the U.S. and Canada.