Sunday, April 9, 2017

Jottings - Slice of life - 111 ( The girl on the train - Book, Movie and Emily Blunt)

Jottings - Slice of life - 111 ( The girl on the train - Book, Movie and Emily Blunt)
During my flights to Seattle and back this week, I watched two films : “The girl on the train” and “Devil wears Prada”. Both of them are based on books with same names, and both of them are wonderful adaptions - true to the intent of the author.
I chanced to read Paula Hawkins book in 2015, just because I had nothing to read on a particular flight. I picked it from an airport book store, and was half hoping to fall asleep midway. But surprisingly, it was powerfully written. The story and characterization of a depressive, alcoholic; her perception of life that flits between imagination and reality at regular intervals, kept me reading till the end. It was a murder mystery, and Paula had enough command over the medium to keep the story at the edge and not revealing the true killer till the last few pages. It was a four hour flight, and I had almost finished the book before we landed. I remember feeling during that time that this would make a great movie, if only they could cast find the right Female protagonist for the lead role. It needed someone with maturity and madness to play Rachel Watson - the depressive, alcoholic.
Emily Blunt played the role to perfection. In a story, which goes back and forth in time, it is important that the lead character maintains a thread of continuity for the audience to see and empathize. The gradual degeneration from a healthy married woman to chronic depressive caused by her incapacity to conceive a child needs careful and measured acting. It should be powerful, without slipping into melodrama. Viewers must sympathize with the obviously pained spouse, who bears the brunt of his wife’s inconsistencies and alcoholism. We must be pushed to the conclusion that the husband is the victim of unfortunate circumstances and he should find himself a better female companion than his present one. In the book, Paula spends pages describing such a transitory state, but films dont have that luxury. In few decisive scenes, the matter must be bought to focus. Director Tate Taylor does a brilliant job doing exactly that.
I saw Emily Blunt’s performance for the first time a decade ago , interestingly enough, in the movie “ The Devil wears Prada”. She was almost a debutant then, acting besides Meryl streep, as her overworked, overstressed personal assistant. It was a short role, but important. Like mirror reflecting sunlight, almost every one in that movie glowed in the brilliance of Meryl’s artistry, and I am sure Emily became a better actor watching the genius at work. Ten years later, in “The girl in the train”, Emily Blunt performs as a complete actress in all respects. She lent tremendous credibility to the character that Paula Hawkins carefully sketched. The basis of Rachel Watson’s character is this : does an alcoholic compromise ones ability to perceive and judge all the time. At least that is the common understanding. But it need not always be true. Sometimes, when perceptional barriers are broken down by drugs, life appears more real and true than it is otherwise. It is this dilemma which most alcoholics find very difficult to reconcile. What is real and what is unreal? Which of our sensory perceptions represent true state of affairs, which are distorted? These are questions Paula tries to answer in this murder mystery, and which Emily projects so beautifully on screen. It is one of those rare occasions when you could read the book first and watch the movie, or watch the movie and then read the book. Both complement each other.
I will talk about “the Devil wears Prada” in an other installment.
God Bless…
yours in mortality,

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