Last month began my monthly feature, You Should Be Reading, with the end of what 2016 had to offer in terms of book adaptations. Now it’s time to step into the new year and to take a look at what adaptations are being released in January 2017.
With two true stories, one delving into the past surrounding a court trial regarding the holocaust and another focusing on present technology as a man attempts to use Google Maps to find his birthplace and family, a children’s fantasy involving a monster that looks like a tree, a historical Japanese fiction set in the time of Hidden Christians, and a crime story about a bootlegger turned notorious gangster in the 1920’s, there’s a huge and varied selection of book adaptations that are being released this month.
Here’s more about them:
A Monster Calls (in UK cinemas from Sunday 1st January)
The adaptation I am looking forward to most of all this month is that of Patrick Ness’ children fantasy, A Monster Calls, which was originally published in 2011.
With the screenplay written by Ness himself and J.A. Bayona set to direct, the film follows a young boy who seeks the help of a monster to help him cope with his dying mother’s illness. In an attempt to help the boy fix his unhappy life, the giant yew tree monster tells him a collection of fables.
With Lewis MacDougall set to star as Conor, Sigourney Weaver as Grandma, Felicity Jones as Mum, Toby Kebbell as Dad, and Liam Neeson as the voice of The Monster, Ness’ story is an emotional tale with a huge heart. With a similar feel to Harry Potter’s The Tales of Beedle the Bard, only with a much more impacting punch, this is undoubtedly going to a film you’re going to remember from 2017.
From the director of the Spanish horror The Orphanage (2007) and the emotional true story The Impossible (2008), J.A. Bayona only has to blend these genres together to create something truly magical with this film – making it hauntingly beautiful and deeply heartbreaking at the same time. He’s got a phenomenal story to work with, and a mix of genres that he knows how to handle perfectly, so make sure you don’t miss out on this one.
A Monster Calls is set to be released on 1st January. Click here to watch Liam Neeson read the first chapter of the book.
Silence (in UK cinemas from Sunday 1st January)
Based on the book of the same name by Shûsaku Endô, originally published in 1966, Silence is set in the time of Kakure Kirishitan (“Hidden Christians”), following the defeat of the Shimabara Rebellion of Japanese Roman Catholics against the Tokugawa shogunate in the 17th Century.
The story follows two Portuguese Jesuit priests (played by Andrew Garfield and Adam Driver) who face violence and persecution when they travel to Japan to locate their mentor (Liam Neeson), who has committed apostasy after being tortured.
Shot entirely in Taipei, Taiwan, Silence is another Martin Scorsese passion project and has been in development since 1990. Knowing that is promising enough, right? We love it when Scorsese finds an obsession with something.
Almost 20 years in the making, Scorsese commented that: “Silence is just something that I’m drawn to in that way. It’s been an obsession, it has to be done… it’s a strong, wonderful true story, a thriller in a way, but it deals with those questions.”
Set to be released on 1st January, the film also stars Tadanobu Asano and Ciarán Hinds
Live By Night (in UK cinemas from Friday 13th January)
Directed by, written by, and starring in the lead role, Ben Affleck is bringing Dennis Lehane’s Live By Night to the big screen next.
Originally published in 2012 and winner of the 2013 Edgar Award for novel of the year, the story is set in the Prohibition Era and follows a group of individuals and their dealings in the world of organised crime, centring on an Ybor City bootlegger, Joe Coughlin, the prodigal son of a Boston police captain, who becomes a notorious gangster.
With Affleck in complete control of this adaptation, we can expect a similar feel to his other directorial projects, Argo, The Town, and Gone Baby Gone. He hasn’t disappointed us so far, so we can only hope that he makes a good effort of this adaptation before his DC instalment of The Batman.
Set to be released on 13th January, the film also stars Elle Fanning, Brendan Gleeson, Chris Messina, Sienna Miller, Zoe Saldana and Chris Cooper.
Lion / A Long Way Home (in UK cinemas from Friday 20th January)
Telling the true story of Saroo Brierley and his search for his family, Lion is based on the 2014 book A Long Way Home, which was written by Brierley with Larry Buttrose.
With Dev Patel leading the book’s film adaptation as a present-day Saroo, the film follows a five-year-old Indian boy who gets lost on the streets of Calcutta, thousands of kilometres from home. Surviving many challenges on his journey, Saroo is eventually adopted by a couple in Australia. 25 years later, he sets out to find the family and home he was taken from, helped with the development of a new technology that is Google Earth.
Starring Nicole Kidman as his adoptive mother and Rooney Mara as his girlfriend, Lucy, the film has a great cast list, with Dev Patel already having proven himself as a fantastic actor to follow on such emotional journeys, most notably with his performance in Danny Boyle’s Slumdog Millionaire in 2008.
Also starring Abhishek Bharate, Divian Ladwa, Priyanka Bose, Deepti Naval, Tannishtha Chatterjee, Nawazuddin Siddiqui, and Sunny Pawar, Lion is set to be released on 20th January.
Denial / History on Trial: My Day in Court with a Holocaust Denier (in UK cinemas from Friday 27th January)
Another true story, this time based on the 2005 book History on Trial: My Day in Court with a Holocaust Denier, written by acclaimed writer and historian Deborah E. Lipstadt, Denial tells Lipstadt’s true story of her battle to prove that the Holocaust actually happened. The case stems from renowned holocaust denier, David Irving, suing Lipstadt for libel, leaving it down to Lipstadt and her legal team to prove the essential truth that the Holocaust occurred.
Directed by Emmy Award winner Mick Jackson and adapted for the screen by BAFTA and Academy Award-nominated writer David Hare (The Reader), Rachel Weisz will play the role of Lipstadt and will face off against Timothy Spall, who is set to play the role of Irving.
Even though the film has some big names attached to it, and a brilliant writer when it comes to historical dramas, this adaptation hasn’t had much recognition before its release, but Lipstadt’s story is undeniably an important one to be told, and if you enjoy court case dramas then you may be interested in catching this one next month.
Set to be released on 27th January, the film also stars Tom Wilkinson, Andrew Scott, Jack Lowden, Caren Pistorius and Alex Jennings.