In an age of streaming services and film production companies branching out into different entertainment sectors, finding a book-to-film adaptation that does justice to the original material can be difficult. It’s easy to get lost in the mix of adaptations that are underwhelming or rushed. But fear not! This year brings many fantastic book-to-film adaptations that you won’t want to miss. From well-known classics to masterpieces based on true stories, this year’s book-to-film outings will stay with you long after the credits have finished rolling.
Based on A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman (Now available on Amazon Prime and Apple TV)
Remaking the original celebrated film adaptation of a beloved novel is a challenging task. But in the hands of Director Marc Forster (Quantum of Solace, Finding Neverland, The Kite Runner) and with Tom Hanks at the helm, we may be assured it is in safe hands.
A Man Called Otto tells the heart-warming tale of a widowed curmudgeon who spends most of his time critiquing the failings of his neighbours. But when a young family move into the neighbourhood, everything Otto thinks about his fellow human beings is turned upside down. Although the film is a defiant celebration of community spirit, A Man Called Otto is far from saccharine. It contains serious themes, including suicide and depression. Its ending, though beautiful, is best described as bitter-sweet.
Although it missed out on an Oscar nod, for people interested in getting to the heart of human stories, A Man Called Otto will endure for years to come.
Based on Alleujah by Alan Bennett (In UK cinemas now)
From the written word to the stage, Allelujah, based on a play of the same name by Alan Benett, sees the daily usual meet the heroic. It tells the moving story of the patients of the Bethlehem Hospital in Yorkshire. The lives of the elderly locals are turned upside down when “the Beth”’s Shirley Bassey geriatric ward is threatened with closure from the powers that be. Can the Beth be saved? Or will the bad guys – in this case, the NHS efficiency drivers – win? A local crew of documentary makers come along to record the action – and witness a lot of chaos and hilarity along the way.
The charm of Allelujah is helped along by the inclusion of an entire ensemble cast of British acting royalty. Dame Judi Dench plays a retired librarian, Mary. She brings her inimitable wit and gravitas, imbuing the character with warmth. David Bradley – master of the stage and screen – plays Joe, a former miner who has a strained relationship with his son Colin. But perhaps most formidable of all is Jennifer Saunders as Sister Gilpin – whose no-nonsense attitude is her defining characteristic.
Although the adaptation is a love letter to the NHS, it doesn’t shy away from exposing its challenges and flaws. If that sounds too close to reality, you might be surprised to also see the inclusion of the Covid-19 pandemic. Though sensitively handled, those looking for the cosiness and charm typically promised by Bennett’s most famous works might be slightly disappointed. Still, it’s heartening to see the works of one of Britain’s best-loved playwrights continuing to triumph on the silver screen.
Based on Women Talking by Miriam Toews (The film was in cinemas in February, but is now available on DVD and Blu Ray)
A powerful adaptation of Toews’ novel, Women Talking tells the heart-wrenching story of a small group of women living in a Mennonite colony in South America and the sexual and emotional trauma they endured at the hands of the leaders of their community.
Sarah Polley’s adaptation opens with a quote direct from Toews’ novel, proclaiming it: ‘…an act of female imagination.’ As a proclamation, it is a double-edged sword: an idea used by the women of a patriarchal religious community that abuses them, but also the source of their power and, ultimately, their freedom.
The performances alone make Women Talking an unmissable watch. With a star-studded cast including Frances McDormand, Claire Foy, Jessie Buckley, Ben Withshaw and Rooney Mara, the adaptation already promises to be a rare treat.
Stunning cinematography, made possible by Luc Montpellier, displays mesmerising shots of the Mennonite community and its surroundings. The rugged rural landscape captures the seeming simplicity of this way of life. Yet there is a jarring contrast between the beauty of the rural surroundings and the darkness within. The women here were left with the difficult decision of whether to stay and forgive the perpetrators, fight their oppression, or go and start a new life elsewhere.
The film’s events are loosely based on incidents in a remote Bolivian colony between 2005 and 2009. The truth came to light when a woman woke up to two men attempting to assault her. Seven out of the eight defendants were later found guilty.
The women’s tenacity and bravery in the face of tremendous tragedy inspired Toews, who herself was raised in a Mennonite community. Before writing the book, she spent years gathering information and speaking with the survivors, which unquestionably lends it a sense of authenticity.
Women Talking is a remarkable representation of women’s will to build a better future for themselves, their children, and women everywhere.
Based on characters from Dracula by Bram Stoker (Opens in U.K. cinemas on Friday 14th April)
Fans of the iconic vampire, Dracula, have something to look forward to this year, as a new adaptation based on the characters from Bram Stoker’s classic novel is set to hit the big screen. If that’s not exciting enough, the film boasts an incredible cast, including Nicolas Cage, Nicholas Hoult and Awkwafina.
For the first time, an adaptation casts the spotlight away from Count Dracula (Cage) and onto his devoted henchman, R.M. Renfield (Hoult). After centuries of servitude, Renfield has decided to break free from his master, even attending a support group for victims of emotionally abusive relationships. But it’s safe to say the Count won’t let his beloved henchman go without a fight. We can expect a thrilling ride that stays true to the novel’s Gothic roots while injecting new life into the story.
Whether you’re a die-hard Dracula fan or simply a lover of vampire movies, the upcoming adaptation will surely be a thrilling ride. With a talented cast and fresh take on the story, it should be an outing that film fans will be eager to see. So, mark your calendars, and get ready to sink your teeth into a new version of one of the most famous stories in horror history.
Based on the book Pale Blue Eye by Louis Bayard (streaming on Netflix U.K. now)
The Pale Blue Eye, a book by Louise Bayard, has been adapted for Netflix, much to the delight of mystery and historical fiction fans. The plot centres around the investigation of a string of killings that occurred near the esteemed École Polytechnique in 1830s Paris. A teenage Edgar Allan Poe, who would later become a literary legend, plays the investigator at the centre of the narrative.
With a great ensemble cast that includes Christian Bale, Lucy Boynton, Gillian Anderson, and Timothy Spall bringing the narrative to life, the adaption promises to be a thrilling experience. Lovers of Bayard’s book will value the attention to detail in the set and costume designs, transporting viewers to 19th-century Paris.
Hopefully at least one of these titles will have piqued your interest. Grab your popcorn and settle in for a night of suspense and intrigue…
Jessica is a freelance copywriter and content writer based in Richmond-Upon-Thames. With a degree in English Literature from University College London, she has experience as a private tutor for 14-18 years olds and adult learners. She has also worked in Widening Participation as a Mentor, Student Ambassador, and Student Leader. As someone who achieved A-Levels through distance-learning, Jessica has first-hand experience of the unique challenges and rewards that distance-learning offers. She regularly contributes content to educational websites including eNotes and Tutorful.