Friday, February 22, 2008

Bret Easton Ellis writes a screenplay? Wha' happened?

So I read today that Bret Easton Ellis, author of Less Than Zero and American Psycho is writing an adaptation of Michael Hornburg's Downers Grove. Now I'm sort of intrigued by this. I've never heard of this novel, so I can't give a pithy review or a breezy synopsis, so I'll do a little research (AKA cut and paste). Here's what the book is about according to the publisher:
Downers Grove is the haunting and tender story of Chrissie Swanson, a paranoid high school senior for whom graduating has become a matter of life or death. She''s an unusual girl in an ordinary town. Her mother''s sex life is overshadowing her own; her brother is aboard his own private Enterprise, slipping into one black hole after another; her best friend is hornier than a Prince song; leaving her eccentric grandmother as the only source of wisdom in a rapid downward spiral. As Chrissic tries to take control of the events that shape her life, she finds the events beginning to take control of her, until she is finally cornered by choices with everlasting consequences. Full of humor, wit, and the sacrilegious worldview of a savvy teenager, Downers Grove paints a searing portrait of the American dream in all its broken glory.

Okay. That could be interesting. But I'm reading this page on and all the user reviews are telling me this novel stinks, that it's boring, that it's a cliche. Huh. Okay. So what is Ellis going to do with this, then? The subject matter does seem to go with Ellis' earlier more superficial style, circa Less Than Zero. What we can hope for is that Ellis streamlines the plot, does away with the quirkiness, and makes it as flat and as superficial as possible. My reasoning is that perhaps instead of glamorizing the teen life, Ellis can satirized it and not in the "Not Another Teen Movie" kind of way. Even though N.A.T.M. is a terrific movie.

I know that Ellis has worked on screenplays and adaptations before, and he's a good enough writer to know that screenplays are a different animal than novels, so maybe this will be good. In the hands of the right director, say maybe Todd Fields, this could work. If Ellis tries the play it straight, it will end badly... like Ghostrider badly.

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