Professional blog of John Peyton Cooke, author of several novels, including: TORSOS (Lambda Award finalist), THE CHIMNEY SWEEPER, OUT FOR BLOOD, THE RAPE OF GANYMEDE, THE FALL OF LUCIFER, HAVEN, and THE LAKE. See also personal web site https://jpcooke.tripod.com
Sunday, May 18, 2014
THE TWO FACES OF JANUARY, BY PATRICIA HIGHSMITH. GREAT BOOK. FAILED MOVIE.
I'm not at all delighted with the new film THE TWO FACES OF JANUARY, based on Patricia Highsmith's novel. Highsmith was a writer of suspense novels and she knew what she was doing. Unfortunately, the filmmakers of THE TWO FACES OF JANUARY haven't got a clue. The suspense in the novel derives from an ingenious scenario built around the complexities of the three main characters, none of whom are the least bit innocent. While reading the novel, you have no idea what to expect, because you aren't entirely sure how far each character is willing to go. Compare this with the movie ... in which all three main characters have been made to be as cuddly and sympathetic as possible (because filmmakers wrongly believe this is important) ... with the result that a formerly genius plot becomes muddled beyond belief, and all of the potential suspense of the scenario has been milked dry long before the movie can get off the ground. This is not the first time anyone has screwed up the adaptation of a Highsmith novel, and it won't be the last. But I'd like to send a message to the movie industry: Listen to Patricia Highsmith! Don't change her characters! Don't change her stories! When it comes to suspense, she knows what she is doing, and you don't! (But I heartily recommend that everyone read the book, so to the extent that the existence of the movie encourages new readers to discover Patricia Highsmith, it has done a service.)