Friday, 10 May 2013

About A Boy - The Friday Adaptation

I'm a big Nick Hornby fan, but bizarrely I've seen all the film adaptations before reading any of the books. Fever Pitch the book completely took me by surprise after I expected a few incompetent loveable clowns arguing about football but instead found a deep, moving diary about the beautiful game. High Fidelity is my joint favourite film of all time (tied with Jurassic Park) but even so, I loved the book too. About A Boy however, is a conundrum.

Let's start with a clean slate. I love the film, I really do. Yet I love the book, in the same way, but in a completely different way too. The film pretty much follows the story of the book until three quarters of the way through then, well, it doesn't. It couldn't get any different unless aliens came down and gave Will some kind of probe. Part of the problem (is it a problem?) is the 'Hollywood factor'. In the book towards the end, Marcus (the aforementioned Boy of the title) goes AWOL with Ellie, an older girl into Nirvana. They break a window and generally feel better about themselves, but at the same time, a bit crappy still, life hasn't changed. Bit of a downer.

In the film Hugh Grant grabs a guitar and starts singing with his eyes closed at Marcus's school concert to alleviate the awkwardness. A nice big happy, smiley moment. A bit Hollywood yeah?

After watching the film though, again remember I saw it before I read the book, I loved it, and I still love it. Would I have loved it if I had read the book first? Who knows. The film IS a warm and fuzzy (and very funny) version of the warm, fuzzy (and funny) book, but it just adds the sheen. It's been Hollywooded.

One reason some didn't like the film is Hugh Grant. A lot of folks simply don't like the floppy foppy fringed English git. Well, I treasure him. This role is so far away from that of Notting Hill and Four Weddings (which are still great films).
After checking I'm amazed it only has a 51% public likability rating. But then it is quite an English film. Maybe it's Americans not quite getting it. The critics seem to love it though at 93%!

If I had to make a choice I'd say that the film wins, but only just. Nick Hornby seems to have gone a little too dark in recent years, although I am yet to read his past couple of tomes.

What do you think?