Having just finished reading the book it seemed like as good a time as any to have another look at this adaptation.
Roger Avary (Killing Zoe) adapts and directs Bret Easton Ellis’ brilliant second book with his usual disjointed style. Some would say that it works well as a translation of the book but it turned out to be boring which the book definitely wasn’t.
The rhythms in the writing didn’t translate easily onto screen, the nihilistic nature of these mainly unlikeable characters and the tone of the book come across but the poetry of the language in the book was lost in translation.
The main problem could have been the fact that it was made under the studio system.
Had it been made today the transfer from word to image may have been more honest and daring. It felt like the film was a series of scenes from the book as opposed to a full adaptation.
The execs must have been squeamish about Dawson experimenting with gay, especially when James Van Der Beek was still playing him at the time, so they made the affair between Sean and Paul a figment of Paul’s imagination. It could be argued that, as the chapters in the book are all told from different character’s POV’s it may reside in their imaginations but by doing this you lose a great deal of story, character and suggestion.
The film didn’t work for several reasons; it did not gel, was too disconnected as a piece of film and the subtleties in the book were given big flags in the film thus rendering them much less effective.
Special mentions must go to the Victor (Kip Pardue) European trip told with quick cuts and spanning several countries in the space of about 10 minutes, it has been copied countless times since throughout the media, Lost’s Ian Somerhalder played Paul Denton with the right amount of insecurity and ennui and finally, this was one of Shannyn Sossamon’s first films and she is great in it, the camera (and audience) loves this ex model.
Why isn’t she in more films?