Top 5 Book Adaptations You May Have Missed

This month sees the long-awaited release of Gone Girl, the big screen adaptation of Gillian Flynn’s bestselling novel that took the world by storm.

With standout performances from the film’s stars, Ben Affleck, Rosamund Pike, and Neil Patrick Harris in a rare serious role, Gone Girl has got everybody excited for its release on 2 October.

With the book’s author also behind the film’s screenplay, fans of the book will not be disappointed with the way that it all plays out onscreen. Still just as full of twists and turns, the two and a half hour running time flies by.

To celebrate the release of Gone Girl we decided to take a look back at five other book-to-film adaptations.

And whilst we have all heard and loved the likes of Hunger Games, Harry Potter, and other classics, we thought we would share five great adaptations that might just have passed you by.

The Basketball Diaries, 1995 (18)

Author: Jim Carroll

Director: Scott Kalvert

Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Mark Wahlberg

Why Is It So Great? Leonardo DiCaprio has taken on the starring role in many great book adaptations over the years, The Beach, The Great Gatsby, and Revolutionary Road to name a few, but The Basketball Diaries is one that you may not have caught first time around.

In an interesting turn of events, the book is actually the memoir of its author, Jim Carroll, as he recounts how a promising career in basketball all goes down the drain when he gets addicted to hard drugs as a teenager on the streets of New York City. At just 19 years old, DiCaprio gives a powerful and hard-hitting performance as Carroll in his first major lead role.

The harrowing and sordid tale of addiction, and the depths that you might go to in order to get a fix is just as horrifying when it is played out on the big screen as it is when you read the first hand account, and the gritty film is sure to leave a lasting impression.

Mysterious Skin, 2004 (18)

Author: Scott Heim

Director: Gregg Araki

Starring: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Brady Corbett

Why Is It So Great? Before he stole the show in mainstream action films like Inception and The Dark Knight Rises, Joseph Gordon-Levitt was a renowned darling of the indie cinema world, with Mysterious Skin arguably being one of his greatest films to date.

The film closely follows Scott Heim’s original novel as it follows the lives of two men who were abused as boys only for it to have impacted them in different ways. Whereas Neil McCormick (Gordon-Levitt) has become a cocky and arrogant street hustler who has taken to selling his body for money, Brian Lackey (Brady Corbett) is shy and reserved and, having repressed the memories of being abused, believes that the periods of missing time from his childhood were due to him being abducted by aliens.

Realising that Neil might be able to help him recover the lost memories, Brian tries to track him down with the film finally reaching a powerful and heartrending climax.

Be warned, Mysterious Skin is a difficult read and an even more difficult watch but one that every film lover should check out regardless.

We Need To Talk About Kevin, 2011 (15)

Author: Lionel Shriver

Director: Lynne Ramsay

Starring: Tilda Swinton, John C. Reilly, Ezra Miller

Why Is It So Great? More like ‘we need to talk about how underrated this film was’. We Need To Talk About Kevin got a relatively strong amount of hype when the book was first released and soon made its way onto the bestsellers list.

Unfortunately by the time the film arrived eight years after the book’s initial release, the fuss had died down and not nearly enough people were welcomed into the world of Eva Khatchadorian, played by the absolutely brilliant Tilda Swinton.

The story tracks Eva as she tries to rebuild her life following a tragic event which involved her son, Kevin. Told through a series of flashbacks to her life before Kevin, as well as when she was raising him, the story unravels at the perfect pace as you start to piece together exactly what her son did that has made the entire town hate Eva with such passion.

Ezra Miller is the real star of the film as he plays Kevin with remarkable accuracy to the book’s description – right down to the way he speaks, walks, and carries himself. Miller gives a stand out and disconcerting performance of the disturbing character in one of the first big films of his career, affirming himself as an actor to watch in future.

The Perks Of Being A Wallflower, 2012 (12)

Author: Stephen Chbosky

Director: Stephen Chbosky

Starring: Emma Watson, Logan Lerman, Ezra Miller, Paul Rudd

Why Is It So Great? Everybody has heard of The Perks Of Being A Wallflower novel, the classic coming-of-age tale that found itself somewhat of a cult following after its 1999 release.

One of the film’s stars, Ezra Miller (yes, him again), flawlessly summed up the fans reaction when it was announced that there would be a film adaptation of the beloved book, saying: “When I first heard they were making a film, I was like ‘Who would do this? Who would take Stephen Chbosky’s perfect novel and turn it into a movie?!’…. And, well, it was Stephen Chbosky.”

Yes, the book’s author is the man behind the camera for this one, ensuring that it didn’t get ripped to shreds in the way some book adaptations can be when they hit the big screen.

Chbosky’s presence in the film was enough to get Miller to sign up as Patrick, who couldn’t be more different to his character of Kevin, alongside Emma Watson as his step-sister Sam, and Logan Lerman as the film’s protagonist, Charlie. The story follows Charlie as he writes a series of letters to a mystery recipient about his life in high school following the suicide of his best friend.

The poignant and heartfelt quotes that litter the pages of the book are what make the novel so special and understandably there are many key lines that were unable to make the final cut, however, the performances, nostalgic 90s tone, and atmospheric soundtrack all add to the overall story, which makes reading the book and watching the film two totally different experiences that remain equally enjoyable.

The Book Thief, 2014 (12A)

Author: Markus Zusak

Director: Brian Percival

Starring: Geoffrey Rush, Emily Watson, Sophie Nelisse

Why Is It So Great? The Book Thief is the bestselling novel from Markus Zusak and the incredible film adaptation is as close to the source material as you can get, yet received none of the attention that the book did.

Narrated by Death (Roger Allam), The Book Thief tells the story of Liesel (Sophie Nélisse), a young girl who is sent to live with foster parents during World War II in Germany. The entire cast give breathtaking performances as Zusak’s incredible narrative comes to life beautifully in this captivating and emotionally charged adaptation.

Sophie Nelisse stars as Liesel and was just thirteen-years-old in her acting debut, Nelisse embodies the complex character flawlessly with an authentic-sounding German accent and an incredible performance of her character’s emotional plight. Even the book’s author was full of praise for Nélisse’s portrayal of his treasured protagonist, saying: “Sophie’s Liesel is the character’s spirit from the book transformed straight to the screen. The character is so intact, it is quite amazing.”

The book is an incredible read from start to finish but perhaps one of the strongest features comes from the character of Hans Hubbermann, Liesel’s foster father, a character that fans of the book are fiercely protective of but thankfully Geoffrey Rush was able to do Hans justice and well brought him to life without compromising any of the traits Zusak embedded in him.

In both the book and the film Hans’ relationship with Liesel is sure to steal the show and by the end of either version of The Book Thief, you are guaranteed to have tears in your eyes.