Saturday, August 23, 2014

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, the movie

After having read the book, I was curious to see the movie, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn.

I was disappointed in it. It seemed even more sentimental and Francie was played in this weird sing-songy odd way that made her seem too strange and a little annoying. She was supposed to be a different kind of child, but this actress was whiny and ethereal and just didn't seem right. The film style was corny, and the pathos didn't have the more gritty realism of the book. I also thought the actor playing the father was too old.

It was interesting to see how they condensed the book for the screen. The novel spans several years, but they placed it all in about one year, without Francie aging. They cut some important moments, but did a good job getting in exposition without it feeling clunky or forced.

Honestly I wish I hadn't seen it, because now I think when I think of the book I'll be remembering this lesser version.


Mia Certic said...

I agree with you -- I thought the movie tried to turn the book into a social statement by making the family less exceptional and more predictable. I have since read that for the actor who played Johnny, this represented a comeback because he had been an old song-and-dance man who suffered from alcoholism...which makes me sorry for him, but didn't add to the movie. He was way too old and not attractive enough. (If I were casting this movie today, I'd cast Ryan Gosling in the role.) Also agree about Francie. Katie was unconvincing and Sissy was grossly miscast, I thought. The script won an Oscar, I think, and in some ways it's a clever adaptation, but it twisted some of my favorite scenes and omitted others.

Diana said...

I know. I feel like it overdid the sentimentality and was miscast. Scrunching the story into one year may have been practical, but it altered a lot of the meaning of Francie's coming of age (and coming to terms with her father's death). I wonder if it could be remade today more successfully, or if it's better to just let it remain a wonderful and important book.