Tuesday, 10 May 2011
In which Dick Van Dyke was more convincing
You might not have sensed it, but a collective wave of disappointment and anguish ran through the country last week. I'm not talking about the elections. Or the the fact that they've made another series of Two Pints of Lager. I'm talking about the release of the trailer of the most hotly anticipated movie adaptations of the last few years - and what ho! They've butchered it.
It's a horrible thing, when Hollywood ruins a book you love. I'd only just recovered from the artless massacre that was Angus, Thongs and Perfect Snogging, a book that had more influence over my adolescence than Clearasil, magazine flowcharts and Davison's regulation PE knickers put together*. By moving the action into a mixed school, casting a vastly too attractive lead male and making one of the characters inexplicably Welsh, they ruined the magic. I was gutted.
But this time, it'll be more than just me and a handful of 14 year olds that are gutted. Because this time, it's One Day by David Nicholls. Y'know, that one with the orange cover. The one from the tube. And the bus and the train. That one. If you haven't read it, your Mum will have done. The book has sold over a million copies, which means a potential million people will be screaming themselves hoarse at a cinema screen come July.
For the uninitiated, here's the spoiler-free lowdown: Emma and Dexter meet as students and the book traces them over the two decades to come. Dexter is devilishly handsome in a louche, wouldn't-take-home-to-your-granny way, while Emma is EVERY WOMAN. She is pretty but in the most accessible of ways, with proper thighs and an unfortunate haircut. She is from Yorkshire. She has ruddy cheeks. She works in a Mexican restaurant for a large portion of the book. And who fits the description of the chubby, chippy, slightly unkempt Northern girl better than… you've guessed it… Anne Hathaway!
Yes, she of the lily-limbed, angel-faced yank charm. Of COURSE. I mean, she played Jane Austen once. That basically makes her British, doesn't it? And to be fair, where uglying up for a part is concerned, Anne has a resume to rival none - except perhaps Zellweger. Remember The Princess Diaries, where they frizzed her hair out so you didn't know she was pretty? Then there was The Devil Wears Prada, where a shapeless sweater effectively compensated for the couple of stone she didn't bother gaining for the role.
Of course, we've been prepared for months. I've lamented the casting decision, read interviews with Nicholls weakly defending the casting decision ("She's a bit brighter than the Emma in the book"), and lamented it some more. But none of this stopped me wailing at my desk when the trailer made its first appearance online last week.
So let me say it now - Dear Film People. It isn't hard. Just do what it says in the book. Ok there are time constraints, and some things don't translate well on screen, yada yada. But basically, for the most part, just do what it says in the book.
It works like this: if the book says a character has brown hair, fat arms and a limp, you give them brown hair, fat arms and a limp. The fans go 'yay!', spend lots of money on cinema tickets, dvds and merchandise, and everyone can be happy.
For now, I've got a couple of months to re-read One Day, eek the last droplets of joy from its Hathaway-less pages, and hope. Hope that maybe, if we're lucky, it might be another Bridget Jones. Good luck with your 'ee by gum's, Anne.
*In fact, we maintain to this day that the book was actually supposed to be set in a fictional Davison CE High School for Girls, such was its insight into the friendship-rich, romance-poor world of the teen girl geek.