‘Brooklyn’ Film ‘does it better’ than the book

By: Anna Shapiro ~Guest Writer~

Some people prefer books over movies to convey an image. I hate to say it, but sometimes the movie is better than the book. This statement goes against every fiber of my being. I am an English major, an avid reader, a voracious goblin that feeds on well written sentences and metaphors, and yet even I cannot deny that the movie sometimes does the story justice better than the book.

Obviously, the book is usually better, but in some rare cases like “Trainspotting,” “One Flew Over The Couckoo’s Nest” or “A Clockwork Orange,” the movie just does a better job. Over Christmas break I saw a preview for “Brooklyn” while seeing Carol at the Esquire movie theater. I had helped costume some of the extras and wanted to see if I spotted anything familiar. I didn’t.

Later that day I saw the book, “Brooklyn,” in a pile of paperbacks at Joseph Beth in Rookwood. “New York Times best seller” it said. I can’t imagine why. So I bought it. I sat down and read it, cover to cover, in about two hours. When I closed the book I was disappointed. It was like so much had happened, but nothing had really happened at all. I was not gripped or enthralled, I really didn’t care. The book touched on so much, maybe it could have been better had it been longer, had the plot been more played out and the emotion more real. But it wasn’t.

I read 18 books over winter break, and “Brooklyn” was by far my least favorite. I shut the book, entirely disheartened, and that was that. But I couldn’t get the movie out of my mind. The preview looked very well made. I was drawn to the costuming and Saorirsa Ronan, the lead actress, has fascinated me with her adorable little accent since I first saw her in Wes Anderson’s “The Grand Budapest Hotel.” On top of that, Nick Hornby, a popular author (whose new book sits patiently on my coffee table waiting to be read), wrote the screenplay. Come on, who doesn’t love Nick Hornby? In the case of his book, “A Long Way Down,” the book was actually better than the movie.

Ultimately though, the raving reviews and awesome Rotten Tomatoes score of 98 percent left me decided: I would bare the cold and treacherous route to the Mariemont theater and see “Brooklyn.” And I’m glad I did. The movie was so much better than the book. I nearly cried three times, as opposed to barely being able to keep my eyes open while reading the actual book. The scenery and costumes in the film that were so poorly described in the book drew me in immediately.

The sing-song accents and the stellar acting only enhanced the effect. Nick Hornby did an excellent job at taking an utterly dry telling of an interesting story and adding dialogue and plot intricacies that left me leaving the theater with a smile on my face, instead of the dissatisfied grunt I must have exerted when I slammed the book shut.

Sometimes words just aren’t enough to tell the story. Some stories are too real and alive to be captured on paper. They require images, sounds, colors and just a little bit of humanity. Sometimes the characters you picture in your head do no justice to what the author had originally intended. Often, this is the author’s fault, for using poor characterization. Sometimes, the author leaves too much to the imagination, you need to see it all played out in front of you to really feel it. And sometimes, like in “Trainspotting” and “A Clockwork Orange,” you just can’t comprehend what is going on in the book because you swear whatever language it is written in is not English, and you need a movie to do the translations. I think all of those, besides the language barrier, apply to “Brooklyn.”

So I’m going to say this one final time, the book is good, the book is always good, but sometimes the movie is a little bit better. And while none of the ten million film adaptations of “Pride and Prejudice”or “The Great Gatsby” do either book any justice, “Brooklyn” does. The film version of “Brooklyn”does it better.