By either serendipity or dumb luck, I found myself reading two upcoming film adaptations back-to-back. Both of them are fantastic in their own way. Both of them have trailers that show they are as perfectly-cast as you could hope for. And both of them will come out in 2016.
I began with M.L. Stedman’s 2012 novel The Light Between Oceans, which follows a young couple, Tom and Isabel, as they are living on a tiny lighthouse island off the coast of Western Australia. One day a small rowboat arrives, with a crying baby and a dead man aboard. Isabel, having just suffered with a series of miscarriages, and seeing that there is no proof of who the dead man is, suggests they keep the child. Tom, uncomfortable with them keeping a child that is clearly not their own, resists at first before accepting it may be for the best. All seems to be well until word carries out that the child’s real mother is still alive and has spent the past few years looking for her daughter.
To say any more would be criminal. This is a story that is beautifully told, but that also creates a situation in which sides will be chosen. I found myself sympathizing with Isabel’s point of view more than my co-worker, who strongly believed Isabel was in the wrong. It provides a great opportunity for discussion, and for a while, I felt the ending would be similarly conflicted. Whatever your opinion of the character’s actions may be, it does give way to one of the most beautiful endings I’ve ever read. It takes what could be a splintering reading experience and makes it something whole again.
Any movie that can boast having Michael Fassbender, Alicia Vikander, and Rachel Weisz is going to be worth anyone’s attention. Even better is that all the roles seem to be perfectly cast. But what I find the secret ingreident to be is writer/director Derek Cianfrance. His 2010 film Blue Valentine led a lot of couples to seriously examine their relationships and his ambitious 2012 film The Place Beyond the Pines seems to be gathering more praise as time goes on. All of this is to say this is not someone who does things in half-measures. You can be sure Cianfrance will dig for all the emotional depth the story provides, direct his actors to fantastic performances, and hopefully leave us with a film worth talking (and, who knows, maybe even arguing) about. It will hit theaters September 2nd, 2016.
While Jojo Moyes’ Me Before You takes place in a completely different time period and location, it is similarly about choices and the consequences of them. Here we meet Louisa Clark, a small-town twenty-something who is suddenly out of a job. Her boyfriend has distractingly become more and more enamored with his own triathlon training. Her family needs some financial support and she has little sense of how to do it. That is, until she hears of a rather particular job offer: working as a personal assistant to Will Traynor, the son of a rather wealthy family that lives nearby.
As simple as the job sounds, the challenge becomes clear: Will is a quadriplegic who, due to a sudden accident, has been robbed of his adventurous, thrill-seeking life. He is now confined to his wheelchair, and with it, his future has been boxed away. The first day on the job leads to Louisa convinced she can’t do it. She can’t change the mind of a men set in his ways of darkened rooms and limited movement. Only through sheer persistence is she able to break some cracks in the armor and let things breathe a little.
Louisa is determined to save Will’s life and make him see all the possibilities ahead of him. Will, on the other hand, has already decided what he wants. It’s nearly halfway through the book before you understand this as a reader, and when you do, it changes everything. Like I said, this is also a book about choices and the consequences that come with them. There is still a rather hilarious, exciting, and heartwarming story to be found within this book. But it also all leads to an ending that I found rather heartbreakingly incredible, but that which may put off others. I give Moyes credit for staying true to her colorful cast of characters all the way to the end instead of using wish-fulfillment fantasies to leaven the truth. It provides an immensely satisfying story that I was not ready to let go of.
Like The Light Between Oceans, the filmic adaptation of Me Before You appears to be as perfectly cast as one could hope for. I actually heard about the adaptation taking place as I was reading the book, and once I knew Emilia Clarke (Daenerys Targaryen to many) would play Louisa, I couldn’t separate the two. She seems perfectly cast, and the rest of the movie follows suit. I, for one, can’t for wait for June 3rd to arrive.