Sunday, March 29, 2009

Two hours is not long enough to do Nora Roberts's Books Justice

Two Nora Roberts Lifetime movies down, two more to go. This evening Lifetime aired Midnight Bayou, Nora Roberts G.P. Putnam’s Sons book from 2001. I am delighted to say that this one I finally liked. It only took five stories turned into movies before that happened.

I am actually a fan of Nora Roberts's books, but I haven't been too pleased with the movies. The first time around I learned quickly that two hours isn't long enough to compress one of Roberts's books in. Montana Sky was one of my favorite books of all time. Roberts put a lot of effort to write a well thought out mystery. As far as I was concerned the movie producers completely ruined the story.

This time around I really considered not watching, but I decided that since I hadn't read two of the books that I would give it a try. Last week after Northern Lights I was completely disgusted. Don't get me wrong for what it was the movie was good. If I hadn't remembered the book so well, I probably wouldn't have a complaint. Well, maybe not as many complaints.

Okay I just have to say it. No matter where they are located in Alaska in early January there was way too much light in that movie. Roberts did well in the book to describe the amount of daylight hours there would be, but the same didn't happen in the movie. Also, it seemed like they were walking around in Lake Tahoe, California in the winter, early spring rather than the dead of winter Alaska when the temperatures are below zero. Not that I was sorry to see sexy Eddie Cibrian running into the frigid temperatures with no shirt on and his light weight jacket opened to show off his beautiful chest, but...Well enough about that.

In the book Cibrian's character, Nate, it a tortured soul who has come to Alaska to take over the job as sheriff and to heal after his partner is killed. The Nate in the movie seems only mildly upset about his former partner's death. It would have been nice to explore some of the feelings of the characters a little more like Roberts did in the book. There just isn't enough time to do so in a two-hour movie.

Midnight Bayou worked a little better in that the screenplay writer, Stephen Tolkin, was able to dig into a good ghost story and leave the romance almost secondary. The book and the movie aren't exactly the same, but this time the movie was a whole lot closer than any of the previous attempts.

What Midnight Bayou lost in the differences between the screenplay and the original manuscript, the actors made up for ten fold. The movie starred Jerry O'Connell and Lauren Stamile as the lead hero and heroine. Both are fairly decent actors, but add to the mix legendary actress Faye Dunaway, and even secondary actors Ashley LeConte Campbell as Josephine Manet and Alejandro Rose-Garcia as Julian Manet who both play pretty convincing roles as menacing spirits, and it makes Midnight Bayou the best of the six movies that have aired so far.

I have yet to read either of the books which the last two movies, High Noon and Tribute, are based on so it will be interesting to see what kind of a take I will have on the movies after the air. Not reading the book before hand could make all the difference in the world.

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