2015/ 16 is shaping up to be an interesting time for film adaptations of Irish novels.
Most high profile is probably Brooklyn, adapted from Colm Tóibín’s Costa award winning 2009 novel by fellow author Nick Hornby and directed by John Crowley. The trailer for the movie, which is out on 6 November focuses on the love triangle as Eilis Lacey played by Saoirse Ronan, must choose between life in America and life in Ireland and the competing men who live in each place.
Featuring the omnipresent Domhnall Gleeson, who will be seen later in the year in the new Star Wars movie and veteran actors Jim Broadbent and Julie Walters, one thing that is promised is acting of the highest order. In a change from the book, the movie opens after Eilis has arrived in Brooklyn and it will be interesting to see how the quiet understated elegance of the book translates to the big screen.
The Secret Scripture, a starring vehicle for Rooney Mara, is based on Sebastian Barry’s novel of the same name. This book is a big favourite of mine so I will be watching with interest how it depicts the story of Roseanne McNulty (played by Both Mara and Vanessa Redgrave) the last remaining patient in a closing mental hospital, who strikes up a friendship with Dr Grene (Eric Bana) as she slowly describes the events in her life that led her to being committed.
Barry’s novel was incredibly visual, poetic and evocative and in the hands of Jim Sheridan, this could be a very striking film indeed.
As well as the big Hollywood names in The Secret Scripture, there are some great Irish actors filling out the cast including Tom Vaughan – Lawlor (from RTE’s Love/ Hate), Aidan Turner (calm yourselves Poldark fans!) and Pauline McGlynn (the legendary Mrs Doyle).
I have high hopes for this one and would warn anyone interested in watching to try and avoid reading/ hearing about the ‘twist’ before you buy your ticket!
A book that I wouldn’t normally have considered as a potential for successful film adaptation is Emma Donoghue’s Room, which is currently in post-production with no release date announced yet.
Given the stifling setting and the devastating subject matter, it could go either way. For five-year-old-Jack, Room is his world. It’s where he was born, and where he and his Ma eat and sleep and play and learn. But to Ma, it’s the prison where she’s been held for seven long years, since Old Nick abducted her when she was nineteen. Through her love for her son, Ma has created a life for him in their claustrophobic space. But Jack’s curiosity is building along with her own desperation—and she knows that Room cannot hold them forever. The story is in good hands though. Emma Donoghue has written the screenplay and the film is being directed by Lenny Abrahams, a fantastic Irish filmmaker behind Adam & Joe, Garage and What Richard Did.
The casting looks good too. Shailene Woodley was originally tipped for the part of Ma, but that has gone to Brie Larson, who was so good in United States of Tara. William H Macy and Joan Allen also star, but I have a feeling that the success of Room may rest on the young shoulders of Jacob Trembly who plays Jack.
An interesting Northern Ireland film due for release next year is The Truth Commissioner, based on David Parks’ novel. Set in a post-Troubles Northern Ireland, the film follows the fictional story of Henry Stanfield (Roger Allam), a career diplomat who has just been appointed as Truth Commissioner to Northern Ireland. Eager to make good as a peacemaker, the Prime Minster urges a commission following the South African model of Truth and Reconciliation. But, though Stanfield starts bravely, he quickly uncovers some bloody and inconvenient truths about those now running the country; truths which none of those in power are prepared to have revealed. Again, there is a great supporting cast of Northern Ireland’s finest actors and Allam can always be relied upon for a solid performance, be it in The Thick of It or narrating one of my kids’ favourite cartoons Sarah & Duck.
However, the movie I am most excited for, is typically, the one I know the least about, but it is the film adaptation of one of my favourite Irish books – Skippy Dies. I am very excited about this one, particularly as it is being adapted by the playwright Stuart Carolan who is also the creator and writer of the fabulous Love/ Hate and is directed by none other than Neil Jordan.
For those of you who haven’t read the book yet (READ IT!) Skippy Dies is an epic black comedy of love, death, boys and catholic boarding school. The Booker nominated book opens with the death of the eponymous hero during a donut eating contest and then traces the tangle of events that led up to his death. At equal turns hilarious and heartbreaking, I think this one could be great. There is no word yet on casting, so there could be a couple of years wait to find out if Skippy Dies as well on the big screen as he does in print.
Are you looking forward to seeing any of these upcoming movies? What are your favourite literary adaptations? Are they any you would like to see?