Failed Adaptations

Sep 22 2012 @ 7:11pm

Michael McGrath lays out the reasons why cinematic portrayals of writers often fall flat:

These films take the work itself less seriously (often a lack of literary merit is part of the joke) and instead focus on the pitfalls of the creative life. They ignore the words for the work and all that can inspire and disrupt it: psycho fans, ex-wives, portals to the Underworld. These writers can be cynical hacks (As Good As It Gets), genre stars (Misery) or dislocated sportswriters (Funny Farm). In romantic comedies, the writer is often a witty Lothario or a good-natured wimp. Either way, the profession’s primary function is to provide the character with plenty of free time. …

Better to make a biopic (Quills, Becoming Jane, Miss Potter). While these films are frequently dull, they can coast on borrowed esteem and there’s much less potential for embarrassment. Nobody has to do the extra work of creating a fake masterpiece.