“Tell and Show”

I generally avoid seeing film adaptations of books I have read. Too often I have a clear image in my mind of the characters and location and am either annoyed or disappointed as the fiction moves to the screen. But I made an exception recently when I went to see a visual recreation of Claire Keegan’s gem of a novel Foster. The 88 page work, originally published in 2010 was reissued in 2022 when I encountered it for the first time.

The film, The Quiet Girl, shown in the United States in 2023, had been nominated for an Oscar in the foreign language category because of its Irish dialogue. Fortunately for me, the film had English subtitles. I knew it was an interpretation of Foster and I hoped it did the novel justice.

At its center the novel conveys all that isn’t said but just absorbed by a little girl. Sent away for the summer to a house of distant relatives, she remains silent most of the time. Gradually, however, she comes to understand that all families are not like hers. This brief respite utterly, but oh so gently and sweetly, changes the child. The film manages to illustrate rather than explicate the novel. Scene after scene reveals the child, the farm, the house and the people she encounters. As viewers we slow down, taking in the scenes at the child’s pace.

For me this movie showed me it was possible to make a novel and a film equivalent while not identical. I encourage anyone to both read and view these two exquisite works of art.

18 thoughts on ““Tell and Show”

  1. You got to the heart of a good film adaptation, Elizabeth. Done well, it doesn’t have to disappoint any of the expectations of readers who love the book. My own example of this would be ‘Angela’s Ashes’. A near-as-it-gets perfect adaptation of a heartbreaking memoir. The book was amazing, and the film was too.
    Best wishes, Pete.


  2. That’s interesting, as I’ve just downloaded this book and had no idea it was a film. Well I’ll still read the books first. I just read Small Things Like These ..I think that’s the title.. and loved it.
    I feel the same though if Ive read the book the film is disappointing


  3. My biggest disappointment was seeing the movie “Gone With The Wind”. I had read the book so many times, I could see it in my mind. Rhett Butler and Scarlet O’Hara were bigger than life. In the movie they were so much less impressive. At least in my mind.


  4. How beautifully you wrote this!

    I’ve seen a movie of only one novel I read. I was disappointed by the movie, having read the book first. It was Gone with the Wind.


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