11th Oct2014

Top 5: Adaptations at the BFI London Film Festival

by Phil Wheat

Adaptations in film and television have become some of the most popular franchises and series today. From the Harry Potter films to the HBO series Game of Thrones to the countless Nicholas Sparks movies that find their way to the cinema, books have become the stepping stones to getting some of the most creative storylines on the screen. Adaptations from stage to film are also wildly popular, with films like 2012’s Les Misèrables and 2013’s August: Osage County receiving critical acclaim in the past couple of years. This years BFI London Film Festival is following the adaptation trend with five stand-out book/play/documentary adaptations to watch out for.

The Drop


From the pen of Dennis Lehane (author of the impressive adaptations Gone Baby Gone, Mystic River, and Shutter Island) comes a crime drama starring Tom Hardy and James Gandolfini. Bob (Hardy) plays a bartender who lives a quiet life attending church, working for his cousin (Gandolfini) and staying out of trouble. However, one day, he comes into contact with a woman named Nadia and soon finds himself at the centre of a robbery that kicks off an investigation into his neighbourhood’s past.

The Blue Room


Adapting 1964 mystery On Tour by Georges Simenon, director and star Mathieu Amalric brings us a drama filled with lust, scandal and lies. Julien (played by Amalric) is a married farm machinery rep. who longs for a pharmacist’s wife (played by Stèphanie Clèau). Their adulterous relationship ensues on one Thursday afternoon when they sneak off to a hotel suite. The film jumps back and forth between scenes of their secret relationship and Julien’s present-day interrogation regarding possible foul play. This film is part thriller, love story and tragedy and it is sure to keep viewers on their toes.

Come Back to the Five and Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean


Based on Ed Graczyk’s play, this film tells the story of a 1975 reunion in honour of the twenty-year anniversary of James Dean’s death. A group of women who were formerly in the James Dean fan club reminisce about their pasts and present. With an all female cast, this film is full of impressive performances by Cher, Karen Black, Sandy Dennis and Kathy Bates.



Starring dream team Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence (Silver Linings Playbook and American Hustle) this film is an adaptation of Ron Rash’s novel set in depression-era North Carolina. Perfect couple George Pemberton (Cooper) and his wife Serena (Lawrence) have their master plans foiled when they discover that Serena cannot have children. To make matters worse, they also find out that George has fathered a child out of wedlock, previous to their marriage. It is a dramatic story of jealously, murder and ambition.



The only film adapted from a documentary at the festival is X+Y (adapted from BAFTA winner Morgan Matthew’s Beautiful Young Minds) In the film we meet Nathan, a teenage maths genius with autism. Like many others with his condition, Nathan sees the world with logic and reason, and therefore prefers the company of his maths tutor to his loving mother. In the film, he travels to the Mathematical Olympiad, where his world bursts into colour.


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