Tag Archives: page and screen

Page and Screen: Woody Allen is right to have fun with classic literary figures in Midnight in Paris


For the arty cinemagoer, after something more substantial than the resurrection of Rowan Atkinson’s clownish spy Jonny English, there was a choice to make this week. Accomplished actor Paddy Considine’s directorial debut Tyrannosaur faced screen legend Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris, in a battle for Britain’s “alternative” vote at posh theatres and screening rooms.

Considine’s story, which stars Peter Mullan and Olivia Colman and revolves around domestic abuse, has been praised to the rooftops by a range of critics. Allen’s film too has garnered praise so that whispers about a comeback have grown into audible chatter. But even though Midnight in Paris has been hailed his best film in years, Allen’s recent track record has been so woeful that all this effectively means is that it’s passably entertaining and perceptive. It’s not great art or great cinema.

It is, however, based on fantastical encounters with some of the greatest creative types in history. Owen Wilson’s disillusioned scriptwriter Gil magically and mysteriously meets the likes of Ernest Hemingway, Salvador Dali, Pablo Picasso, TS Elliot and F. Scott Fitzgerald. He doesn’t just meet them either. He interacts with them, whining about his artistic insecurities and the unsatisfactory nature of existence.

We’re often told not to meet our heroes. Our expectations are too high, too inflated by impossibly perfect ideals, for the reality of a flesh and blood human being to match. However Gil, as usual the character Woody would’ve once played himself, is somehow not disappointed by the literary greats he encounters on his midnight Parisian strolls. And he has good reason to feel letdown.

The instantly recognisable authors and artists are charming enough but they are comprised almost entirely of clichés. Scott Fitzgerald says “old sport” a lot, as his most famous creation Jay Gatsby is prone to do. Hemingway’s conversational style is blunt and stripped of convention, much like his economical and observational prose. Dali is reduced to a series of surreal catchphrases about a rhino.

In short these are cardboard cut-out versions of such famous faces. We are left with neither a believable representation of their brilliance or a more human, accessible character that we can “know”. Tom Hiddleston and others are simply fooling around in their roles.

But Midnight in Paris is a fantasy and there’s nothing wrong with the actors evidently enjoying themselves. In fact the tone of the entire film is extremely refreshing. It never takes itself too seriously and doesn’t become dependent on pretentious in-jokes. And it never stops asking intriguing questions about the past, art and the way we live either.

This column is often too focused on the great weight placed on the shoulders of anyone trying to adapt something from the page to the screen, rather than how much fun the intermingling between literature and cinema can be. There’s no doubt that the whole business of adaptation can become too serious a slog. By creating something original but also dabbling lightly in the best literature has to offer for influences, Allen has written and directed a film that is at once thoughtful, bookish and full of fun.

P.S Just because Allen had the easier sell, don’t neglect Tyrannosaur, which looks like a superb, if brutal, example of pioneering British filmmaking.

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Page and Screen: The static and cinematic in Beginners


In previous Page and Screens I’ve referred to the book How Fiction Works by James Wood. Last night, after returning home from seeing Beginners, I immediately plucked it off the shelf. Despite all the quirkiness of Mike Mills’s indie rom com, trying so hard to make it stand apart as a unique creation, it was a rather familiar filmmaking convention of montage and voiceover that lodged itself firmly in my mind, because it reminded me of a passage in Wood’s bible for book lovers.

The story, though distinctive, was overshadowed in my mind’s eye by thoughts of the way this film was structured, the way it unravelled. It frequently featured rapid slideshows of sometimes random, sometimes nostalgic images, accompanied by Ewan McGregor’s sometimes melancholic, sometimes profound voiceover. These sections usually provide background information on characters which could be expositional but rarely feels as though it is. They also weave a symmetry and structure through a narrative that jumps around in time.

Beginners begins with McGregor’s character Oliver clearing out his father’s things. We then follow Oliver as he reflects on the last years of his father’s life, his childhood and other regrets. After his mother died of cancer his father, played with relish by Christopher Plummer, reveals that he is and always has been, gay. For the first time in his life he can finally freely embrace his true identity in retirement. Oliver watches on with a mixture of confusion and happiness, feeling his own sense of self compromised by years of deceit and his own deeply rooted trust issues.

Then of course a woman arrives on the scene. They tend to be pretty and this one, a French actress, is no exception. Just as his father had to wait for his moment to truly begin living, Oliver now let’s himself feel that he might not be alone, that someone is there who just gets him. The pair meet at a party, Oliver dressed as Freud jokily analysing people to cover his sadness and she totally mute due to laryngitis. She sees right through his act and a believable, amusing relationship organically forms before our eyes.

So this is a film with colourful characters and plenty of quirky humour that might be too much for some. But what makes these characters come to life? This movie could easily become overshadowed by the issue of repressed homosexuality and older people in love but it does not. Instead all its characters are intriguing, with Oliver himself a particularly strong window onto events.

We come back to James Wood and his chapter on character. He says that there is “nothing harder than the creation of fictional character”, citing the telltale sign of debut novelists describing photographs of the protagonist’s family members; “the unpractised novelist cleaves to the static”. Good and great novelists know how to “get a character in”, to get them moving in a story, keeping obvious and ugly information dumps to a minimum.

In Beginners however montages of still images successfully get characters “in”. This got me thinking about the use of the static by filmmakers. In the cinema we are used to immediately seeing characters on the move but that does not necessarily establish them. In books we often see them just thinking and not moving. Perhaps by going against expectations in either medium we gain a refreshing perspective on character?

Certainly Beginners takes a minimalist approach, stripping away much of what we’re used to from a film at times. Much is made of Oliver’s relationship with his father’s dog, which is given some hilarious subtitles. Oliver’s meeting with his French actress is mostly gutted of dialogue. He also never truly reacts passionately to his father’s homosexuality, never choosing to fully support or fully disagree with it at any point, never really showing outrage or annoyance. Peter Bradshaw of The Guardian hits the nail on the head when he singles out Oliver’s passivity as a factor holding the film back, not allowing audiences to truly love the film.

However Bradshaw also points out Beginners’ most interesting element, describing it as “literary” and likening Oliver to a “novelistic narrator”. This film really does blur the boundaries between the page and the screen. It might be a sign of unimaginative weakness to rely on weighty sketches of the static on the page but in the cinematic universe Beginners proves that still pictures really can speak a thousand words. Coupled with well written voiceover (hard enough in itself) and placed at the right points, a series of pictures can flick the narrative pace up a notch or scale it down for a profound pause.

Page and Screen: One Day (Part Three – In Praise of Jim Sturgess)


Anne Hathaway’s performance in One Day may be flawed and ultimately a letdown, for cinemagoers and fans of the book alike, but she has one huge advantage over co-star Jim Sturgess; people know who she is. The film needed an enticing lead for audiences in countries where the book is less popular and Hathaway is undoubtedly the star on the billboards. Having seen the film though, it’s Sturgess who is the star lighting up the story. Even if you’ve read One Day or you’re intending to see it, you may well be wondering “Jim who?” and typing his name into Google.

However chances are that anonymity will soon be a thing of the past for Sturgess. One Day’s sprawling fan base will only grow with the release of this month’s adaptation. Legions of existing fans will either love or loathe his portrayal of arrogant but good natured charmer Dexter Mayhew. It’s the sort of role that can transform an actor’s lifestyle as well as their career, catapulting them from regular work in relativity obscurity, to a recognisable and desirable face of the mainstream.

Already Sturgess has appeared in a number of national newspapers, giving interviews to promote the film. In The Telegraph in particular he gives some revealing answers about his origins and his filmmaking philosophy. In 2008 he flirted with Hollywood, appearing in films like 21 and The Other Boleyn Girl, only to draw back for the next few years to make independent films, like 2009’s Heartless, which he truly believed in.

Sturgess came to prominence in Across the Universe, a love story told through the songs of the Beatles. His director for that film, Julie Taymor, is full of praise for him still, hailing his “movie star looks”, “reality” and “strong sense of self”. Taymor’s film provided the perfect breakthrough for Sturgess, harnessing and fusing together interests that until then had competed for attention and focus in his life.

At the age of fifteen, Sturgess formed a band with a group of schoolmates. He had grown up immersed in the musical world, turning to acting only for distraction at school. Then at university in Manchester he fell into making short films whilst trying to become a musician. Deciding to become an actor he moved to London at the beginning of the new millennium, only to accidentally join a band again. Although Sturgess admits to disliking his character Dexter at first in One Day, it’s easy to see where he might have been able to draw inspiration from when playing a character unsure what to do with his life.

After impressing in Across the Universe, Sturgess starred alongside Kevin Spacey in the gambling thriller 21. He played a gifted MIT student who is recruited to a group of bright young things, manipulated by Spacey, that intend to make a fortune in Vegas counting cards. 21 is a slick and enjoyable watch but still our leading man remained under the radar, choosing to take a step back from big budget productions. This is despite an accomplished performance as a big-headed, youthful genius of the sort Jesse Eisenberg would later play in The Social Network to far wider acclaim.

What now for Sturgess, after the game changer that is One Day? Will he step back into the shadows again? As I’ve been writing this article news has broken which suggests that this time he will embrace the mainstream, whilst not abandoning his principles.

According to Total Film Sturgess has joined the ever swelling cast of Cloud Atlas, an adaptation of David Mitchell’s genre blending epic. He’ll star alongside Hollywood A- Listers like Tom Hanks and Halle Berry, as well as fellow promising Brit Ben Whishaw. All the actors will play multiple roles in a film that will tell several stories, interlinked by reincarnation and other themes, across time and space.

In taking on another transformation of a much loved, highly praised and commercially successful novel, Jim Sturgess is once again willingly accepting a heavy load of responsibility and risk. But with Cloud Atlas he is joining an even larger scale project than One Day, with greater creative ambitions too. Even if it really does prove “unfilmable” Cloud Atlas will cement his reputation as both a brave and talented actor, surely destined to continually outshine the likes of Anne Hathaway.

Page and Screen: One Day (Part Two – Alternatives to Anne Hathaway)


In Part One I reviewed One Day and compared it to the phenomenally successful book it’s based upon. This is Part Two, in which I suggest alternatives to Anne Hathaway.

I know, I know. There is no alternative to Anne Hathaway, I hear you cry, members of the “I need Anne Hathaway like oxygen” club. She is undoubtedly a very pretty lady. I certainly did not object when she took her clothes off in Love and Other Drugs and she’ll no doubt look superb in leather in The Dark Knight Rises. She is also talented. She’s won deserved critical acclaim for her performances in Rachel Getting Married and The Devil Wears Prada etc, etc. Whatever her limitations in the accent department, Anne is what you’d call a hot Hollywood property, if you were the type to say such things.

However I think there were stronger candidates for the role of bookish Yorkshire lass Emma in One Day. This is categorically NOT because of her dodgy accent. Ok maybe it is a bit. But there was something disappointing about her performance that went beyond her misguided Emmerdale education.

Director Lone Scherfig has said that whilst One Day: The Book was in love with Emma, One Day: The Film is fascinated by Dexter, and whether he’ll pull through as an alright bloke in the end. For much of the film Jim Sturgess is acting like a dick on telly or being staggeringly ignorant of the emotions of his friends and family. Nevertheless it’s his story, his need for redemption from himself, which drives the movie. In the book we feel, or I felt, more anchored to Emma’s cruelly suffocated potential and deflated ambition. We’re waiting for Dexter to get his act together and save her from her own low confidence.

Perhaps the fact that the film is more centred on Dexter is not just down to changes in emphasis, tone and content Nicholls had to make in the script. Maybe Hathaway’s miscasting also had a role to play in that, in my view harmful, shift. Sturgess excelled as Dexter Mayhew despite the weaknesses of the big screen version. Hathaway was not bad as Emma Morley. But these three (coincidentally British) actresses might’ve been better…

1)

Carey Mulligan worked with One Day’s director Lone Scherfig on her breakthrough picture, An Education. In my opinion she was perhaps the best Emma on offer. She is usually seen as more middle class characters with prim English voices but she would have nailed the studious, quietly creative and brilliant nature of Emma. You can imagine her hunched over a typewriter or book, looking shy, cute and inexplicably alluring. Basically she could play a convincing bookworm with strong principles. She also has the acting chops to deal with Emma’s heartache and traumas later in life. And when she whips off the glasses and comes out of her shell towards the end, when things start going right, audiences would be plausibly wowed at the blossoming beauty. Hathaway looked like a movie star dressing up as geeky and common.

2)

Rebecca Hall starred alongside James McAvoy in Starter for Ten, another David Nicholls book he adapted himself into a movie, with considerably more success. Starter for Ten works well as a whole. It’s predictable but extremely enjoyable stuff. Hall’s character is a constant figure in the background, a determined student activist, who McAvoy’s University Challenge contestant eventually realises he’s meant to be with. She’s adept at being a student and shows an Emma Morley-esque kind nature throughout but the two characters are oceans apart. Could Hall do shy Emma? Her flourishing acting career shows her diversity. My bet is she’d have been as good as Hathaway at least.

3)

Gemma Arterton has been a Bond girl, as well as mastering the regional dialect of the West Country to play frank seductress Tamara Drewe. She’s got double the amount of ticks in the accent column thanks to her role as another Dorset heroine; Tess in the BBC’s adaptation of Thomas Hardy’s Tess of the D’Urbevilles. After Tess Arterton will be no stranger to epic romance but like Hathaway she might be too conventionally pretty to pull off library lover Emma, who got a first in English and History from Edinburgh.

Let’s hope Hathaway makes a better Catwoman…

Page and Screen: Black Shorts at the Edinburgh Fringe (Part 1)


This week’s Page and Screen doesn’t actually feature any screen as such. In fact it’s little more than a completely shameless bit of self promotion on my part. Nevertheless I’ll try to justify it by claiming that what I’m about to shamelessly advertise fits in with the “ethos” behind this feature.

Earlier this year I wrote a sketch called “Lessons in Salesmanship”. I submitted it to a York based Theatre Company, quirkily named Mary’s Sofa, with no real
expectations of it being selected. But I had to give it a go because the prize
was a writing credit for a show, entitled “Black Shorts”, which was heading to
the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in August. Cue surprise and childlike excitement when they actually liked it.

The Fringe is well known as a Mecca of comedy. It’s where the next big things make their breakthroughs. It’s where the industry insiders pick who to back. It also sounds like a month of awesome fun. I am only going for four days but I am looking forward to a packed itinerary, coupled with hidden gems I’ll only find with a little exploration. Aside from the best established and undiscovered comedians around, there’s theatre, music, cabaret and streets full of colourful entertainment.

Then there’s the city itself. Apparently I’ve been there, as a four year old. My father paraded me on his shoulders up and down the Royal Mile. I say paraded but I mean lugged. Family legend has it that I was terrified by the sheer amount of legs jostling for supplies on the high street, hence the need for an elevated position. That didn’t help much either though. I imagine the barking Scottish faces dangled my infant nerves over the abyss of a tantrum. Into which I swiftly plummeted.

I digress. The city sounds wonderful. Of course there is the added excitement of my own work on show and the tales of entertainment ecstasy I have both read and heard about, from the likes of Michael McIntyre and Stephen Fry. But if I were simply visiting Edinburgh there would be plenty for historian me to salivate over and digest, plenty of simultaneously European and British culture and architecture to absorb. Think of the great enlightenment figures from the city, the economists and doctors, the writers and philosophers. Think of the great works of atmospheric literature conceived and set there.

Let’s get back to my vague and tenuous link to the usual Page and Screen offerings. In June I went to see a preview of “Black Shorts” in York. I had no idea what to expect. I had no idea how many changes had been made from my original creation. I wasn’t sure how long it would last and how it would fit into the show as a whole. I’d never met any of the Mary’s Sofa team and I had no idea if they’d be good or bad, terrific or terrible.

Looking back with a little perspective, a few less jangly nerves and temporarily becalmed excitement, I realised this was my first taste of it. Of a creative process I hoped to see a lot more of. Of a collaboration I wanted to be a much bigger part of in future. I felt the surrender that screenwriters must feel, handing over a project helplessly to a Hollywood studio.

Yes there was enormous anticipation and a sense of satisfaction and achievement. But there was also something more akin to peril. Would it still be what I had intended? Even if it was, would it work in practice, and would other people like it? It wasn’t quite transforming a novel to film but it was making an idea work from the page as part of a whole. I hadn’t seen the rest of the show, didn’t know the other writers and they hadn’t met me to gauge my precise preferences face to face. Such is the magic and mystery of the web.

“Black Shorts” was split into two acts that night. The first act destroyed any doubts I had about Mary’s Sofa. Not only were the other shorts intelligently written but they were charismatically and skilfully realised. There were some really impressive themes about storytelling itself running through the show, along with some fine moments of black comedy and drama. These weren’t just talented, arty and interesting people, like many I hope to casually meet at the Fringe; they also explored themes that I found fascinating. I felt relieved.

But my moment was still to come. There were new worries to ponder during the interval. The show had a coherent structure and interconnected themes. The first act had a particular tone. I wasn’t sure how my sketch would fit with the flow and the feel.

Then all too quickly it was over. I couldn’t have been happier with how it was realised. If memory serves me correctly, uncorrupted by ego, people laughed just seconds into the fast paced dialogue. The characters I’d imagined had been fleshed out but they were still mine. The qualities of the performers conjured laughs from lines I hadn’t even envisaged to be that funny. There was no doubt my sketch was more conventionally comedic than other shorts in the show but it seemed to provide suitable light relief, deflating some audience tension, rather than feeling out of place.

I spent the rest of the evening glowing and trying not to mention how well it had went in every sentence I uttered. Stress did return as I worried about whether Mary’s Sofa had been happy with it and how it would do at the Fringe itself. But mostly I just enjoyed the moment and looked forward to Edinburgh. It will hopefully feel like a huge step in the right direction. Briefly I’ll indulge myself, thinking that I’ve “arrived” or something pompous. Really though I know it’s only the beginning, fingers crossed a promising one.

You can find details about “Black Shorts” and Mary’s Sofa here: http://www.maryssofa.co.uk/#!black-shorts

If you follow the link there’s a video from the preview. You can glimpse the contribution of this Flickering Myth writer (“Lessons in Salesmanship”
remember) at 19 seconds and 28 seconds.  If you’re attending the Fringe you can see “Black Shorts” at Finnegan’s Wake (Venue 101) at 16:45 on August 4-5 and 8-12.

I’ll report back after my Fringe experience with Part 2. Thank you for indulging this sales pitch. But it was obviously so much more than that, looking at the passion and emotional rollercoaster behind the process of adaptation etc, etc, blah, blah, blah…

Page and Screen: What is the real legacy of Slytherin from Harry Potter?


Warning: This article contains spoilers that may induce suicide

When I finally saw Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows: Part2, just a few days after its release, I was ecstatic to find that the franchise bowed out by reclaiming its magical mojo. For me it was the best film of the series by a long way. Debating my enjoyment with friends I conceded it may just be that I have forgotten the omissions from the books that used to irritate me or that I simply no longer care as long as the film is good. And this was definitely good, so good I’m tempted to use the word “sublime”.

The tone was perfectly judged. The film starts with a tense and atmospheric scene of dialogue, still drenched in the grief of Dobby’s death and the impending doom. From then on the contrast is expertly maintained, with unique action sequences following moodily shot moments of explanation and reflection. There are clichés and cheesy emotional dramas aplenty but the successful history of the series earns its self indulgent payoff. Well for someone of the Potter generation like me at least.

I simply cannot cram in everything I liked about The Deathly Hallows: Part 2. As a film experience it seems to have everything, from a dark and beautiful style, to gags and heartbreak. I rarely feel completely and utterly amazed and transported in the cinema, but I did watching this. I don’t want to diminish my enjoyment by writing a proper review, which would be biased by my personal Potter journey as well as inadequately conveying its many, yes magical, moments.

Besides there were only two moments I can remember that irritated me. One of these was when Harry grabs Voldemort and they fly about for a bit pointlessly (Voldemort is too powerful to grab!). The other was more puzzling than annoying. It wasn’t the epilogue, in which the actors play their older selves on the platform at King’s Cross. I simply laughed for the entirety of that.

It was a throwaway moment in the Great Hall, when Harry reveals himself to Snape and the Death Eaters now in charge of Hogwarts. Voldemort quickly knows Harry is there and uses some wonderfully sinister and psychological scares on the students. He speaks to them from inside their heads, assuring them that they’ll live if they give him Harry Potter but if they fight they will die. At this point some girls from Slytherin house demand Harry is seized. Maggie Smith’s Professor McGonagall, head of the courageous and good Gryffindor house, then orders the whole of Slytherin to be confined in the dungeons until the battle is over.

Now the Harry Potter series is well known for its moral messages and Voldemort’s hatred of half bloods. There are some far from subtle Nazi parallels as the bad guys constantly insist that Muggles (non magical folk like us) and half bloods (children with only one magical parent) are inferior to pure bloods of true magical families. J.K. Rowling appears to be sending the typical “don’t judge a book by its cover” and “everyone deserves a chance” messages. But these common goods have always been at odds with the Hogwarts tradition of the Sorting Hat.

For the uninitiated, when first year students join Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry they are “sorted” into houses by a magical hat placed on their head. Every house is associated with different attributes. A quick (and simplified) summary would read as: Gryffindor = brave, Hufflepuff = kind, Ravenclaw = clever and Slytherin = evil. Yup essentially if you’re in Slytherin you turn out to be bad.

And yet there is the ending to this conclusion to the series, which reveals the true intentions of slippery Severus Snape. If you ignored the spoiler warning at the top and you haven’t either seen the last film or read the last book, now is the time to abort. Snape basically loved Harry’s mother Lily. He has been looking out for Harry all along. But wait…he killed Dumbledore! Yes technically, but Dumbledore was already dying from a wound he sustained destroying a part of Voldemort’s soul called a Horcrux. Confused? Very sorry if you are, I’ll get back to my point about inconsistency.

In the epilogue Harry’s son worries about getting put in Slytherin, before he sets off to Hogwarts for the first time. Harry reassures “Albus Severus Potter” that one of his stupid names belonged to a former head of Slytherin, who was the bravest man he ever knew. Both Rowling’s books and the film series end by hailing nasty Snape’s undying unrequited love as the true, silent hero of the whole thing.

In a recent interview for Empire Magazine, Potter screenwriter Steve Kloves admits his favourite character is not Harry, but Hermione. If your favourite character is Harry you’re a bit weird and boring. My favourite character was always Snape, first for his vile putdowns and mystery and finally for his valiant but unrecognised and unrewarded selfless sacrifice in the name of love, a love that was never realised. He is a bitter dreamer so easy to sympathise with.

We are left with two very different legacies for the house of Slytherin. On the one hand the people that appear to be the villains on the outside can sometimes be the greatest heroes of all. On the other, never trust a rotten apple, even if it has the potential to taste great with a bit of work.

I’m sure some of you are probably thinking that it’s a bit stupid to be ruining a great film and phenomenally successful series with such picky analysis. I do not intend to spoil the enjoyment of the last film, which is a fantastic and fitting ending as I have said, or the creative achievement of the whole Harry Potter universe. Rowling’s muddled messages over genetics and the morals of condemning someone over something other than their actions, does illustrate that Harry Potter’s magical world is far from perfect though. Her imagination is superb and she is capable of powerful poignancy and elegance, as illustrated in the largely unaltered scene in the final film when Dumbledore praises the magical power of words. But perhaps Slytherin was her Achilles heel.

Or maybe she was also capable of realism as well as fantasy. Maybe she meant that some people are always more likely to turn out “bad”. But that makes the achievement of those who come good in the end all the more admirable. Slytherin’s ultimate legacy doesn’t matter. It will be dwarfed by the ongoing impact of the whole world of Hogwarts, Hagrid and Harry. I’m just reluctant, like everyone else, to stop talking about it.

Page and Screen: In Praise of Rupert Grint


With the all conquering Harry Potter franchise drawing to a
close after a decade of record breaking box office figures and immeasurable
sales of merchandise and DVDs, reams are being written attempting to sum up the reasons for the worldwide phenomenon. Recipes for success are being compiled and suggested as Warner Brothers and other studios look for the “next Potter” to lure audiences consistently to cinemas on a huge scale. Children’s authors are being assessed and targeted as execs wonder where to find the next J.K. Rowling. Meanwhile the super rich writer has launched a new website to continue the Potter brand, “Pottermore”, and has revealed that she has waited, perhaps wisely, until after the last film to publish several projects she’s been working on for some time since finishing The Deathly Hallows.

Some say that Rowling’s immense imagination and wonderful
writing accounts for the success of the films. The sheer detail of the books
helped create a wizarding universe that went beyond the plots. However up and
down the country it’s easy to find English teachers, experts and ordinary
readers that will think little of Rowling’s talent. Of course she clearly has
an ability to create worlds and engaging plots but she is also reliant on
influences and is far from a genius writer. Whilst I was sucked in by the books
after reading them, unlike my school friends I only embraced The Philosopher’s
Stone after seeing the film version, which convinced me Harry Potter wasn’t as
childish as it sounded.

Perhaps the fact that Warner Brothers conceded artistic
control to British based Heyman Productions ensured the appealing flavour of
the series? There are no doubt many different reasons for the spellbinding
effect Hogwarts has had on box offices internationally, but as someone who has
grown up in the eye of a decade long magical storm, the Harry Potter films
transcend the usual critical criteria. As rankings of the films appear all over
the web, I have found myself reflecting on the franchise as a whole.

If I had to pick out one key reason for its success it would be the way the films have matured with their audience. Those behind the films deserve some credit for this but if anything they haven’t lived up to the darker depths of the books, until the final film if you believe the early reports from critics. It was Rowling’s
masterstroke to pen seven stories that evolved in tone as well as plot. However
watching the films has delivered the genuinely unique experience of seeing three
child actors grow into young and talented adults, which mirrors the maturing
mood of the stories.

Daniel Radcliffe and Emma Watson tend to hog the headlines.
He has become a leading man and she has gone from prissy bookworm to stunning, sexy and intelligent model, capable of juggling a demanding degree from a top university with filming and an increasingly diverse career. Recently though, as Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows: Part 2 premiered in Trafalgar Square, the newspapers reserved special mention for the huge cheer that greeted Rupert Grint.

Grint has always been more than the long suffering ginger
one. In the early films, when Radcliffe was excruciatingly awful at times in
the lead role, Grint provided much needed comic relief and more, with a skill
beyond his years. Respected film veteran John Hurt dubbed him a “born actor”
and allegedly directors beyond Potter, such as Martin Scorsese, have predicted
a bright future for him. In this early screen test, Grint is the clearly the
most expressive of the famous trio, inhabiting his role even when he doesn’t
have lines to read, unlike the blank faced Radcliffe and two dimensional
Watson: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EDMm4NQPEgs&feature=player_detailpage#t=477s

But then a combination of the stresses of the lifestyle change and scripts that let his character down reduced Grint to a predictable and subdued comic presence during the films in the middle of the series. Radcliffe and Watson both grew in
confidence to take on more integral and convincing roles in the drama. The
final film ought to have plenty of opportunities for Grint to go out with a
bang big enough to showcase his true talent though, with the
will-they-won’t-they romantic chemistry between Ron and Hermione finally coming to a head and several dramatic moments to sink his acting chops into. Grint has certainly demonstrated his promise elsewhere with performances in Driving Lessons alongside Julie Walters and wild teen drama Cherrybomb.

We’ve been through a lot with Harry, Hermione and Ron and
got to know not only them, but a little of the actors that portray them, on the
way to their final showdown with Lord Voldemort. Harry Potter will always be a
great deal more than just a shadow hanging over the careers of Radcliffe,
Watson and Grint. They will all try to shake it off and it will be remarkable
if any of them completely succeed. I for one though have a feeling that out of
all of them it is Rupert Grint we are still yet to see the best of. He was a
lovable Ron but as someone else we haven’t heard of yet he is going to blow us
away.