I first heard about the 2016 film “Dear Eleanor” via YouTube ads. Whoever created the trailer did a fine job, because I was determined to sit down and dedicate 2 hours of my life to watching the actual movie. New releases are increasingly difficult to take a chance on, as storytelling skills steadily worsen across the movie industry, but I found myself curious this time.
The original “Dirty Dancing” from 1987 was a remarkable blend of dancing, music, and story. It was eye-catching, sassy, and despite glaring anachronisms (such as the discrepancy between the film’s soundtrack and the time period setting), appropriate for all contemporary audiences. Unfortunately, Hollywood seems to have “gone off on a limb” with remakes during the past 15 or so years. Instead of retelling familiar stories with the intention of bring new, fresh interpretations to the screen, producers and writers have concocted point-blank failures that have attracted more negative than positive attention, their current marketing strategy. I’ve seen one remake after another generate terrible reviews from critics and viewers alike, both complaining about the same issue: “these new versions have no soul.” That may be true overall, but that doesn’t mean that some of these films can’t present new perspectives.
I think I first heard about the new production of Island because I was a devoted neophyte-fan of the British TV show Merlin. When the lead star of a favorite show pursues an indie movie production role, you’re bound to hear about it. My reaction to Colin Morgan being cast as Calum was a bit…different. For one thing, I pursued the novel first instead of the movie itself. After all, at that time Island was completely unavailable in my “neighborhood,” so watching the film and then reading the book it was based on was out of the question for me. So I used the only tool available to me: my vast imagination. And the text of the original work by Jane Rogers.
A brief summary of my experience: for the first time, I sampled adult fiction and decided I wanted a deeper taste. I was prepared for everything and nothing. I took a great plunge…and I was surprised. True, I despised the exorbitant profanity that Nikki (the main character) used, but I actually delved hard into the themes of Island and found things in the story that I…liked. Amazing as that can sound once you read the plot synopsis of the book. I officially reviewed Island for the Examiner with relish and felt a twinge of triumph over having conquered my fear of the adult novel.
Next, I wanted to see the movie adaptation. Obviously, to complete my experience. I was also curious about how certain parts of the story would be handled visually in the film:
- the island itself
- Nikki and Calum’s incestuous relationship
- the murder scene
- the fairy tales
- Nikki’s flashbacks and her fear of the lonely darkness