When a movie is made from a book, the first thought that may run through your head is "will the movie be better than the book?" or vice versa. Or in other cases, "will the movie do the book justice?" In the last couple of months, I've watched a couple of movies that started out as books. I've read one of the books but not the other. They are "Philomena" and "Tiger Eyes."
In the case of "Philomena," I knew nothing about the woman the story is about. I glossed through a description of the movie when it came out, Irish teen becomes pregnant, sent to one of Ireland's Magdalene asylums that is run by nuns, child is given up for adoption, and she spends the next 50 years looking for him. She gets help from a British correspondent and former adviser to the Labour government, Martin Sixsmith.
But the movie had Judi Dench in it. I mean, c'mon, this is a woman who turned a few minutes onscreen in "Shakespeare in Love" into an Oscar win. She's just amazing in whatever she does. And she didn't disappoint in her role as Philomena Lee. The actress who portrayed Philomena as a teen, Sophie Kennedy Clark, was no slouch either. I'm tempted to look up other films she's been in.
"Philomena" turned out to be one of the best films I've seen this past year. It's an enjoyable movie with injections of humor, especially where Steve Coogan is concerned. Coogan, who portrayed Sixsmith, also had a hand in writing the screenplay. Now I've read in places that the book Sixsmith wrote is a bit different than the movie, which tends to focus more on Philomena herself. Sixsmith's book is more about Philomena's son. The search leads the two to the United States, where they find out who the son Philomena named Anthony became.
Last week, I watched the DVD version of Judy Blume's novel "Tiger Eyes." I had seen news about the movie being made in the last two years and wondered how Hollywood was going to handle one of Blume's books. The book itself was published back in 1981, so when the movie was made in 2012, things had to be updated a little bit. For those not familiar with the story, Davey is a teenage girl whose father is shot and killed at his shop. She's the one who finds him bleeding on the floor after she hears the gunshots. Her whole family is affected in one way or another, which includes her mother and younger brother Jason. They go off to Los Alamos, New Mexico to stay with an aunt and an uncle. In the book, it is said that it is the father's older sister; in the movie, it's the mother's older sister (minor detail). The uncle, named Walter, works at the National Laboratory (where they make bombs, gasp!). Davey, who is dealing with her grief, takes a bicycle around town and to the canyon. That's where she runs into an older boy who goes by Wolf. In their first meeting, she tells him that he can call her Tiger.
The does stay true to most of the book - you see Davey's classmate at Los Alamos, Jane, deal with her alcohol problem, the two become candy stripers, and Davey meets a cancer patient who is Wolf's father. It's been a good long time since I've read the book, so I can't really remember all the details. But I did really like the movie. Willa Holland does a superb job as Davey. It was hard to see Amy Jo Johnson, who I remember from "Felicity," as a mother of a teen, but she was believable as a traumatized wife and mother. And even Blume herself makes a cameo in the movie, that was directed by her son, Lawrence. It was like, "hey, it's Judy Blume!" when I saw her.