12 Movies That Feel Like Novels

by admin
12 Movies That Feel Like Novels
12 Movies That Feel Like Novels


Movies and novels might be very distinct mediums, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t areas that overlap. Some movies have a certain painterly quality that makes them feel as though they are written on the page. Additionally, movies that manage to build detailed new worlds often take on the feeling of a sprawling fantasy novel. It’s in the small details that movies can take on a literary quality, as novels have so much more space and time to describe their surroundings. Similarly, there’s a lot of crossover in genres that include fantasy elements like magic. Although movies and novels use different vocabulary to depict these things, they can often provide the same kind of feeling.

It’s not just the setting of a movie that can give it a bookish quality; this can also happen when the movie gives its viewers a really clear idea of what’s going on in its characters’ heads. Once again, novels have a much more expansive arena for providing minute details of the protagonist’s thoughts and feelings. Of course, that’s not the case for every book, but the majority will have more specific detail in that department than a movie. If you’re looking for a movie that feels like reading a novel then look no further — here are 12 movies that feel like novels.


12/12 Portrait of a Lady on Fire (2019)

Camera Film

Writer and director Celine Sciamma’s exquisite love story, Portrait of a Lady on Fire, has a real literary quality to it. Its story follows two women, one who must paint the other, as they fall in love. Sciamma and her crew took pains to make their lighting mimic the effect of natural sunlight. She tells Vox that “every scene was very smoothly lit.” The purpose of this may have been to work around the restrictions of the location they filmed in, but its effect is much more significant. Using natural lighting creates the sense that the images we’re seeing have almost been painted. This, in turn, gives the movie a very tactile quality, as if you could hold it in your hands like a novel.

11/12 The Fifth Element (1997)

Bruce Willis and Milla Jovovich in The Fifth Element
Buena Vista Internationa

In this campy sci-fi romp, a taxi driver in the 23rd Century unwittingly becomes involved in the race to save the world from evil. This simplified version of The Fifth Element’s premise doesn’t convey exactly how involved it really is. Often, this is the case when a movie has been adapted from a novel because there is so much more time to develop a plot across 400 or so pages. But, this movie simply gives that impression while being a completely original concept. The rich and detailed world it portrays is reminiscent of those constructed in fantasy epics and is just as much fun.

Related: Adult Graphic Novels We Want to See Adapted Into Movies or Series

10/12 The Before Trilogy (1995-2013)

Before Sunset movie with Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy
Warner Independent

The Before trilogy is made up of Before Sunrise, Before Sunset, and Before Midnight. Its first installment finds two strangers meeting on a train who spend the night walking around Vienna and talking. The subsequent installments meet them again at different points in their lives, following the same kind of structure. In contrast with The Fifth Element, it’s the Before trilogy’s simplicity that gives it a novelistic feeling. It’s not common to experience a movie whose whole plot is just two people having a conversation. This kind of thing is much more achievable in novels where there is less of a demand for visual stimulation.

9/12 A Fantastic Woman (2017)

Daniela Vega in A Fantastic Woman
Sony Pictures Classics

A Fantastic Woman follows the journey of Marina whose older boyfriend meets an untimely end. The boyfriend’s family doesn’t take kindly to her position in his life and is suspicious of everything, from her involvement in his death to her identity as a trans woman. It’s A Fantastic Woman’s use of magic realism that brings a literary quality to this movie. This technique can be hard to pull off on screen, but it’s used successfully with a very light hand. The moments where this is introduced make the movie even more absorbing and special by drawing the audience into her world.

8/12 A Bigger Splash (2015)

Tilda Swinton and Ralph Fiennes in A Bigger Splash
Searchlight Pictures

Luca Guadagnino’s film A Bigger Splash follows a rockstar and her boyfriend as they take a holiday in Italy, but are interrupted by old friends. Tilda Swinton plays the rockstar in question, who is on vocal rest and can’t speak above a croak. This lack of speech from her is intriguing and adds a layer of introspection to the movie. There is a lot of tension bubbling under the appearance of politeness and civility. The cast does such an excellent job of expressing buried feelings without saying anything that it almost feels like we have access to their thoughts. A Bigger Splash prioritizes things that are important in novels by bringing this depth and introspection to the foreground.

7/12 The Shape of Water (2017)

Sally Hawkins in The Shape of Water.
Twentieth Century Fox

In The Shape of Water, as with many of his films, director Guillermo del Toro’s fascination with fairy tales is evident. This story finds a lonely, deaf janitor, Elisa, falling in love with a semi-anthropomorphic sea creature that is being kept at her research facility. Elisa’s knowledge of sign language allows her to communicate with the creature, which enables their bond to form. It’s so touching that any shock you may expect to feel from the idea of the premise is washed away. The movie’s feeling of magic and peculiarity strongly builds the sense that you are reading a fairy tale.

6/12 The Worst Person in the World (2021)

Renate Reinsve in The Worst Person in the World
SF Studios

The Worst Person in the World follows the protagonist, Julie, a young, aimless woman as she tries to find what she wants to do and who she wants to be. Both the movie’s subject of a 20-something woman lost in life, and its style of quiet sarcasm makes it strongly reminiscent of the work of Sally Rooney. In an interview for Roger Ebert, director Joachim Trier says the movie asks questions like, “Who are you? What are your difficulties? What are you searching for? What are your shortcomings?” Watching this movie conjures much the same questions and feelings as reading Conversations With Friends, for example. Despite differences in setting and medium, the two make a wonderful pairing.

5/12 Eighth Grade (2018)

Elsie Fisher in Eighth Grade

Bo Burnham’s Eighth Grade follows a shy teenage girl in her last week of eighth grade. In another more specific comparison, watching this movie feels so much like reading a compelling young adult novel. Its star Elsie Fisher does such a wonderful job of conveying loneliness through her expressions while her dialogue is that of a typically inarticulate teenager. The contrast between what she is able to say and what you can see that she feels is so stark that it’s almost painful to watch as it casts the mind back to being that age. By giving us such a strong impression of the main character’s interior life, Eighth Grade has the sense that it could easily be an adaptation of a novel.

Related: Upcoming YA Series Based on a New Wave of Young Adult Novels

4/12 Phantom Thread (2017)

Daniel Day-Lewis in Phantom Thread
Focus Features

In what could be Daniel Day-Lewis’ last role, Phantom Thread stars Lewis as dressmaker Reynolds Woodcock, alongside Vicky Krieps’ Alma, his muse. Both are deeply stubborn and the two of them develop an incredibly complex relationship. Every scene appears to be carefully crafted and though it’s set in a world of luxury, the design is pared-back so that there is nothing superfluous in the frame. The attention to detail here, combined with deliciously repressed performances, constructs a world that feels almost separate from our reality. Although this movie couldn’t be more different from The Fifth Element, it’s this same sense of world building that lends Phantom Thread a literary feeling.

3/12 Drinking Buddies (2013)

Drinking buddies
Magnolia Pictures

Don’t let the title fool you, Drinking Buddies is not a bawdy comedy à la The Hangover. It follows two coworkers at a brewery who drink and flirt together, despite both having partners. They, and their partners, then go on a weekend away together and the waters are tested. The movie is much more subtle than it might seem at a glance, though it’s definitely funny as well. Significantly, the dialogue is entirely improvised around a specified plot, and this is the aspect that makes it so unique. There is such a naturalism to the speech and performances unlike most movies out there. This key component is what aligns it with the likes of the Before trilogy in terms of literary dialogue.

2/12 Nobody’s Daughter Haewon (2013)

Nobody's Daughter Haewon Still
Bitters End

From writer and director Hong Sang-soo comes Nobody’s Daughter Haewon, a movie about a university student who has a secret relationship with her teacher. Although the premise may seem like it’s been done before, this movie sets itself apart. There is a certain uncanny quality to it driven by several scenes where we see the main character, Haewon, has fallen asleep in public places. The audience is forced to question how much of this is happening in reality and how much is happening in her dreams. Those moments also create clear divisions in the narrative, almost like chapters in a book. It’s a film that keeps you wondering, and feels like a puzzle to be solved.

1/12 Metropolitan (1990)

Metropolitan still
New Line Cinema

In a comedy about a young group of friends in the upper echelon of Manhattan, we see an outsider attempting to join their ranks, which causes a disruption. Metropolitan is mostly set in rooms, with the friends chatting about social issues in a predictably irritating, but funny, way. It feels almost like a modern adaptation of a Jane Austen novel, with the way we follow upper-class people spending time in each other’s houses and being joined by one lonely middle-class companion. Also present is great wit and comic timing, which Austen is no stranger to, and to top it all off one of the characters, Audrey, mentions being a big fan of Austen.


Source link

You may also like