Monday, May 15, 2006

Try As They Might, British Filmmakers Just Can’t Ruin Literature As Well As Americans.

We were surprised to learn that the BBC has adapted Alan Hollinghurst’s “The Line of Beauty” into a miniseries.

The book centers around a boarder named, aptly, Nick Guest, who stays with the family of a wealthy MP. What’s gotten the Brits all in a tizzy is the fact that Guest, in the midst of a cocaine-fueled bender, dazzles Prime Minister Thatcher by dancing with her at a party. If you know Hollinghurst’s writing (The Swimming Pool Library, The Folding Star) at all you can probably figure that Guest is gay, and the book concentrates on the house of cards he builds around himself to convince him and everyone else that he is loved and accepted. We won’t tell you what happens, but needless to say, there’s a fair amount of heavy breathing.

What surprises us about the fact that they’re making it a series is that NOTHING REALLY HAPPENS in the whole book. What’s great about it is the way that Hollinghurst writes about people and how they interact. It’s like being stoned and watching a polite conversation where you notice the little giveaways in people’s intonation and delivery. The analysis is charming, but hardly translatable to the screen.

That is, we were surprised about the movie until we saw pictures like these:

And we realized – a cloudy drama of manners, full of tousle-haired boys with soft bodies in short trunks, and a cameo by Margaret Thatcher?? In the UK, that’s pornography!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Sigh. So true. We love the nostalgia. Not knowing the story I can say that there better be a LOT of supressed disapointment.