Book lovers have plenty to be excited about in the world of cinema this coming year as numerous classics are being adapted for the silver screen. Here's a preview of some of the most highly anticipated film adaptations making their North American debuts at this year's Toronto International Film Festival. And congratulations to Tammy Petrone for winning the TIFF adaptation book set!
Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
The Russian writer's masterpiece about a married aristocrat's torrid love affair is now a lavish-looking, star-studded film featuring a mostly English cast. Keira Knightley takes on the titular role, with rising star Aaron Johnson (Savages, Kick-Ass) as Count Vronsky and Jude Law playing Karenina's civil servant husband Alexei.
Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
There have been several film adaptations of this Dickens classic, including the 1998 version featuring Hollywood heavyweights like Gwyneth Palthrow, Robert De Niro and the late Anne Bancroft. This latest interpretation appears to remain quite faithful to the original text, but book and film fans alike have expressed particular excitement that the talented and versatile Helena Bonham Carter will be playing the iconic role of the reclusive Miss Havisham.
Midnight's Children by Salman Rushdie
The adaptation of the Booker Prize-winning novel about a boy born as India gains independence is helmed by acclaimed Indian-Canadian director Deepa Mehta. The cast also features notable Canadian actors, including Little Mosque star Zaib Shaikh and Anita Majumdar. TIFF programmers describe Mehta's interpretation as a "luxurious feast of a film, bursting with colour, wit, and magic."
On the Road by Jack Kerouac
The legendary novelist and poet, born to French-Canadian parents but raised in Lowell, Massachusetts, chronicled a youthful cross-country road trip with his friends in On the Road, which then became one of the defining works of the Beat Generation. Director Walter Salles has experience with poignant road trip films as he brought "Che" Guevara's The Motorcycle Diaries to the big screen in 2004. This impressive cast includes a mix of young up-and-comers like British actor Sam Riley (Control), Garrett Hedlund and Kristen Stewart, and veterans Viggo Mortensen and Kirsten Dunst.
What Maisie Knew by Henry James
This is a modern interpretation of James's popular novel about a young girl growing up in a broken home. While the James story was set in 19th-century England and was seen as something of a social critique about decadence and parental distraction, this film adaptation takes place in 21st-century New York City, and features Julianne Moore and English comic actor Steve Coogan as the battling parents.
Rust and Bone by Craig Davidson
This French film starring Marion Cotillard is loosely based on a collection of short stories by Canadian author Craig Davidson. Cotillard plays a killer-whale trainer named Stephanie who meets Alain, a wayward bouncer and backyard brawler trying to take care of his young son. The film made its debut at the Cannes Film Festival earlier this year to mostly favourable reviews.
Foxfire: Confessions of a Girl Gang by Joyce Carol Oates
This is also a French director's adaptation of a North American writer's work. While the 1996 version starring Angelina Jolie and Jenny Lewis took quite a few liberties with the original text, this adaptation remains faithful to Oates's novel about rebellion and independence. "Shooting in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, Cantet and his art director do a stunning job of recreating the look and feel of fifties America," according to TIFF programmers.
The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
This coming-of-age story about high school awkwardness and navigating the emotional minefield of adolescence takes place in a Pittsburgh suburb during the early 1990s. Chbosky was actually hired to write the screenplay for this adaptation, which stars 22-year-old Emma Watson as the charismatic Sam and Logan Lerman (3:10 to Yuma) as shy protagonist Charlie.
Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell
One of the most highly anticipated adaptations is this narrative-shifting, time-jumping tale that explores big themes like human connection and destiny. If the trailers are any indication, this film, directed by Matrix creators Lana and Andy Wachowski, is a visually ambitious movie featuring a powerhouse cast that includes Oscar winners Tom Hanks, Halle Berry and Susan Sarandon, along with Hugh Grant and Jim Broadbent. Some online chatter is about whether this movie will be the next Inception, a high-concept sci-fi/adventure blockbuster.
Dangerous Liaisons by Choderlos de Laclos
The dark, seductive French classic gets a fascinating Chinese makeover, with 1930s Shanghai as the backdrop instead of 18th-century France. Chinese stars Cecilia Cheung and Zhang Ziyi take on the female lead roles of the femme fatale Mo Jieyu (Marquise de Merteuil) and the innoncent Du Yufen (Madame de Tourvel), respectively. TIFF programmers say:
"The characters and plot are easily recognizable from Christopher Hampton's oft-produced stage version and Stephen Frears' Academy Award®-winning film adaptation. But it is the fascinating choice of milieu that turns this familiar tale into something deliciously new."
Win copies of these books! (Contest closed)
To mark the arrival of TIFF and to celebrate all the great cinematic adaptations coming in the next year, we're giving away one grand prize pack featuring copies of all 10 of the books mentioned in this post. Let us know what adaptation you're most interested in seeing and why in the comments section below, and your name will automatically be entered in our random draw. Enter by 11:59 p.m. ET Sunday, September 16. Here are the rules and regs.