Normal People (BBC)

I, like many others at the moment, have spent the past two weeks watching the new BBC adaptation of Sally Rooney’s brilliant novel, Normal People, and you should too. Since I have already written a review of the book (which you can find here), this post will focus more on how well I felt it translated to the screen, rather than my general thoughts on the story and characters.

I’ll start by saying how much I enjoyed watching this adaptation and I think this may be because it did not deviate very far from the book. The producers of the show clearly understood the success of the novel and that to change too much when adapting it for the screen would not replicate the same success. Instead the subtlety of the novel translates beautifully into the show which brilliantly tows the line between what should go unsaid and informing the audience of just enough for them to connect with the story.

Another favourite aspect of the TV adaptation of mine was the cinematography. This was a beautifully shot show with incredible images of rural Ireland. I think this greatly contributed to allowing for things to go unsaid because the audience was given enough just from a single shot of Connell and Marianne that there was no need for any words.

An interesting choice in the TV adaptation was to soften the character of Marianne’s mother. In the book, Marianne’s mother is depicted as very cold, distant and unfeeling and while this can also be said for the character in the TV show, there are a few scenes between Marianne and her mother that attempt to humanise her. The first instance of this is a conversation between Marianne and her mother about Dublin, as Marianne is about to head to college there and so her mother is sharing her experiences there.

The second instance is later on in the series and a much more fraught interaction about Marianne’s brother’s aggressive behaviour towards her. Marianne blames her mother for not doing anything to stop him and her mother responds by pointing out that there’s nothing she can do; he’s her child and she can’t just throw him out of the house. This interaction seems to alter our perspective of her by humanising her and presenting her as being as much of a victim and as trapped as Marianne, where the book exclusively presents her from Marianne’s perspective as cold and uncaring.

Finally, I want to mention one particular scene that I thought was brilliant; when Connell is talking to his therapist. This scene was incredible to watch because it was completely stripped back, with very simple shots of Connell explaining how he is coping, or rather not coping, with his depression. At this point I will give credit to Paul Mescal for his beautifully raw performance which is particularly clear in a long close up shot focused on his face as he breaks down attempting to express what he is dealing with. The vulnerability captured in this scene is truly impressive.

I think that anyone who loved the book will definitely love this show as it is a brilliantly made adaptation that gets everything right.

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March 2020 Round Up

After a slightly slower February, I’m back on track and got through some great literary content this month.

An American Marriage

  • Author: Tayari Jones
  • Publisher: Algonquin Books, 6th January 2018
  • Synopsis: The novel follows the lives of newly-wed couple, Celestial and Roy, after Roy gets convicted for a crime Celestial knows he did not commit.
  • Rating: 4/5

The Chain

  • Author: Adrian McKinty
  • Publisher: 9th July 2019, Orion Fiction
  • Synopsis: Your child has been kidnapped and you won’t get them back unless you kidnap someone else’s. You are now part of the chain.
  • Rating: 4/5

The Trial

  • Author: Franz Kafka
  • Publisher (My Copy): 2009, Vintage
  • Synopsis: Joseph K. wakes up one day to find himself arrested and must find a way to defend his innocence despite being given almost no information about the charge he faces.
  • Rating: 3/5

His Dark Materials

  • Network: BBC One
  • Original Novel: His Dark Materials book series by Philip Pullman
  • Synopsis: In an alternative world, Lyra, a young orphan, goes on a mission to track down her missing friend and ends up discovering the dark secret behind a recent string of children going missing.
  • Rating: 5/5

Noughts and Crosses

  • Network: BBC One
  • Original Novel: Noughts and Crosses book series by Malorie Blackman
  • Synopsis: Star-crossed lovers Sephy and Callum develop a relationship in a dystopian world of racially charged prejudice and conflict where the black crosses rule over the white noughts.
  • Rating: 4/5