Books-To-Films You Have To Read And Watch

There is a certain stigma attached to books being turned into films, in that a film can never match up to the book it is based on. However if you move past the expectation that a film should be 100% true to the book, there are some surprisingly good adaptations out there. Caution, minor spoilers ahead…

Gone Girl – Gillian Flynn

The ‘it-film’ of 2014, David Fincher’s production of Gone Girl was about as close to the book as you can get. Including the most frustrating - throw your book across the room - ending perhaps ever written. The story follows Nick Dunne’s (Ben Affleck) life when his wife Amy disappears, leaving everyone unsure, readers included, whether he had something to do with it. The casting was spot on if you can get past the fact Rosamund Pike (Amy) whispers throughout the whole film. The film perfectly captures Gillian Flynn portrayal of a husband who is not quite guilty, but nowhere near upset enough for someone whose wife is thought to be dead. Like the book the film will leave you reeling, not in a good way.

We Need To Talk About Kevin– Lionel Shriver

Like Gone Girl, We Need To Talk About Kevin saves the worst till last. The film is somehow nothing and everything like book. The story follows troubled teenager Kevin, (Ezra Miller) and invites the audience to decide if his behavior is due to nature or nurture. His life is narrated through his mother, Eva Khatchadourian, (Tilda Swinton) in letters to his father. Despite the fact Eva is the sole narrator in the book, there is very little speech from her, or anyone for that matter. The lack of speech in some ways shrouds the plot, but like the book, the thrilling build up makes the ending all the better, but actually worse…?

The Shining – Stephen King

It’s usually hard to make a book scarier than a film, unless you’re Stephen King. I’m talking about the infamous maze scene in the novel which was left out the film, maybe for the health of the audience. Jack Nicholson plays the lead, Jack Torrance, and does so in equally terrifying and hilarious measures. He and his family are supposedly the sole inhabitants in The Overlook Hotel while he works as the winter caretaker. The isolation proves too much for Jack, with disastrous consequences for his wife and psychic son, whose visions add to the already terrifying story. The film and novel share a constant sense of unease, meaning you can’t put the book down or turn the film off.

The Lovely Bones – Alice Sebold

People often say read the book before the film, but in this case, I don’t think it applies. Reading The Lovely Bones after watching it, revealed the detailed storylines of many characters whose backgrounds were only hinted at in the film. Rather than the books in-depth detail about her gruesome death, it focuses on a dreamlike world of heaven where Susie Salmon (Saorise Ronan) is stuck. She tells the story of her brutal murder at the hands of her ordinary, unsuspecting neighbor, George Harvey (played by Stanley Tucci) and watches as her family attempts to deal with it. The book and film are equally heartbreaking but equally essential to add to your read/watch list.

The Great Gatsby- F. Scott Fitzgerald

Many have suggested that F. Scott Fitzgerald, would have turned in his grave at the 2013 adaptation of The Great Gatsby. I may be in the minority of people when I say I loved this version. Director Baz Luhrmann captures the decadence of the newly rich in the 1920s, with a modern twist. Despite such an all-star cast, the famous faces do not detract from their individual characters. Leo DiCaprio as the suave, enigmatic Jay Gatsby, Carey Mulligan portraying Daisy literally dripping with diamonds, and Toby McGuire as Nick Carraway - the guy who is always just there. This adaptation is an example where it may not capture the true essence of the book, which is still an essential read, but in simplifying the plot it makes an independently brilliant film. Not to mention a soundtrack of Jay-Z, Kanye West, Florence and the Machine and Beyoncé, to name a few.