Books to Movies: Beautiful Creatures and the Perks of Being a Wallflower

Thursday, July 11, 2013

I had pretty low expectations for Beautiful Creatures. My book club went to see it the first weekend it was out and emerged unimpressed, saying it was completely different from the book. However, my sister-in-law had it rented and I was curious to see how it compared, so I watched it with my husband. 

I have a philosophy on books that are adapted into movies. Most people say that you should read the book first and that the book is always better than the movie. I disagree. They are different mediums. A movie is primarily visual and limited in time. A book is primarily intellectual and has no limits for time (gotta love those chunksters). I'd rather watch a good movie than a movie that is faithful to the book. In addition, sometimes the medium of a movie is more compelling than the medium of a book. Not often -- I am a book lover all the way. But sometimes, it works better. 

I don't think Beautiful Creatures was any better or worse than the book. It was different. It had the advantage of showing some of the beautiful images that were created in the book, such as Lena's writing on her bedroom walls and the way she manipulated the weather. It also made almost all of the characters much more compelling to me. In the book, I thought of Ethan as a shy, slightly nerdy guy. In the movie, he was charming, sweet, and totally hot (but not as hot as you, husband! xo). I thought of Lena as this overly emotional, annoying girl. In the movie, she was still sort of weird and dramatic, but she was also snarky and likable. I also thought that the book version of Ridley was extremely cheesy, what with the lollipop licking and pink highlights, but in the movie, Ridley was a complete femme fatale. Looking back on the book, I can see how the characters could have been interpreted that way, but they didn't read that way for me. With the visual medium, they translated much better for me.

Yes, the plot was totally different. If they make more of the movies, I'm not sure where they will take everything, because everything is different except for a few key elements. But you know what? It made a good movie. And my husband liked it, which is significant, because he doesn't like movies. 

I also wasn't sure what to expect from The Perks of Being a Wallflower. I'd heard mixed reviews. I loved the book, but I also read it all in one night when I was extremely pregnant, hormonal, and unable to sleep. In a word, LOVE. In a sentence, it was better than I could have imagined. In a list, here's what I liked:

1. Logan Lerman as Charlie was a WIN. In the book he came across as so socially awkward that it was hard to imagine him dating some of the strong women that he did. In the movie, he was clearly, clearly troubled, but also adorable and lovable and heartbreaking.

2. Same for Patrick. I loved Patrick in the book, and Ezra Miller did a perfect job.

3. Shall I keep going? Hermione Granger Emma Watson was phenomenal as Sam. Total girl crush.

4. And also Mae Whitman! The wins continue!!

5. The way each scene was set up was beautiful and unique without being over the top. I loved that it gave an indie vibe while remaining accessible and not going into bizarro territory.

6. This movie had me bawling by the end. I am an emotional person, but movies don't usually do it for me for some reason. However, I was a wreck at the end of Perks, in the best possible way.

7. It also leaves so much for discussion. My husband hasn't read the book, and we spent another hour after the movie talking about it and reminiscing about the total crap that was high school.

8. Also, my husband yelled out at one point, "I just want them to be together!" Again, husband doesn't like movies, and really doesn't like movies without explosions and superheroes. So. 

Go see it. Bring tissues and wear waterproof mascara. 


  1. THANK YOU for the hefty dose of book-to-movie related common sense. I completely agree that it's better to view books and their adaptations as separate entities and just ENJOY them. Obviously, if the movie's crap it's crap, or if it veers away from the book in a really unforgivable way then fair enough, hate on it, BUT cutting stuff out is going to happen. Shifting visuals around a bit is going to happen. Because THEY ARE NOT THE SAME THING.

    I've not read Beautiful Creatures yet but I saw a trailer for the movie on a DVD the other day and was quite intrigued. And YAY PERKS! I loved the book and worried no end about the movie just not doing it justice, but it DOES. So very much. The main characters are amazing. I was a sobbing wreck at the end (though in a good way, like you say!) and thought it made the leap from page to screen brilliantly. Maybe something to do with Chbosky writing and directing the film too?

    Okay I'll stop raving now. :D

  2. I happened to watch Beautiful Creatures, but I haven't read the book yet (which is unusual for me). I liked the movie and I would be interested to see how different the book is!


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