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Carissa Green Reads

I read widely from many genres. Perhaps this blog will feature fewer ratings and reviews, but I certainly intend to write about my reading life - it's the subject I most find myself wanting to talk about.

Currently reading

The Gay Science: with a Prelude in Rhymes and an Appendix of Songs
Walter Kaufmann, Friedrich Nietzsche
A Kierkegaard Anthology
Robert W. Bretall
The Guns of August
Barbara W. Tuchman
SPOILER ALERT!

Notes on Adaptation: Still Alice

Still Alice - Lisa Genova

Happiness is going to the movies at 5:00 on a Monday afternoon and being the only one in the theatre. 

 

I wasn't entirely satisfied with the novel "Still Alice," by Lisa Genova. For me (and forgive me if I'm really squishy with my terminology here) it wasn't as literary as it could have been. It was so concerned with being "correct" in its details, about privileged Harvard professors, about young professionals, about a budding actor, and especially about the medical and psychological implications of early-onset Alzheimer's disease, that it never transcended its subject matter and became more than its story about one woman and one family. I've been reading Barthes lately, and it brings to mind the distinctions between "readerly" and "writerly" or "open" and "closed" texts. 

 

I think maybe I liked the film a little bit better - remarkable because so much of the book, by necessity, is interior, which is hard to accomplish on film. I guess that's Julianne Moore's gift - making the interior visible and exterior. I think her acting alone could have carried that message, but the filmmakers went a little overboard with trick focus shots - making all or part of a frame fuzzy to indicate some level of confusion or deterioration. I got it: Alzheimer's messes with your perception. Now put things back in focus, please. I'm over 40, that kind of fuzziness makes me doubt my own eyesight and is just annoying.

 

So now the nit-picking: First, one of the things that makes the book special is its setting, in Boston, specifically Cambridge and the Harvard Campus, and then on Cape Cod. The setting informs the characters. Alice's identity is strongly linked to her work as a Harvard professor and a Cambridge-ite. The film is shot in New York, and the commensurate details are all changed to fit that setting, however it never really becomes a New York story the way the novel is a kind of Boston story. I suppose filming in New York was simpler, and perhaps even subsidized in some way. But alas, it was a loss.

 

And finally, could the film not afford a second hairdresser? I don't think Kristen Stewart's hair was properly combed or brushed in ANY scene -- even when she was on stage starring in a summer stock play. Bleh. 

 

-cg