Friday, March 25, 2011

Adaptation Corner: Speak

Did you guys know that an adaptation of Laurie Halse Anderson’s Speak even existed? I only discovered it because I was goofing off on YouTube one day and started stumbling across clips from the movie. This movie was made in 2004, and I believe it was an independent film (please, correct me if I am wrong!). By the end of the film, it did a nice job of portraying the full impact of what happened to Melinda, and how she dealt with it and recovered. However, I think a few techniques kept this from being an amazing film.

For those who don’t know, Melinda is played by Kristen Stewart. I’ve got to say, I’m not her number one fan. She has a tendency to open and close her mouth a lot without actually saying her, and that bothers me. Aside from that, as I re-watched Speak in preparation for this post, I found that her acting was slightly better than I remember.

Other characters in this movie were very bizarrely cast. At one point there’s a guidance counselor, who’s probably supposed to be middle aged, but is instead clearly a twenty something with her hair died gray. Why not just cast someone more age appropriate, or change the age of the guidance counselor? Thankfully, this bizarre decision was somewhat redeemed by the casting of Mr. Freeman, who is played by Steve Zahn. Zahn has a hippie vibe that fits the character perfectly.

The cinematic techniques in Speak were a mix of good and mediocre. I wasn’t captivated by the cinematography---I felt like it could have been a lot more interesting. When inserted, the music was really well chosen. I just wish there had been more of it.

The end of this film is powerful and well done. I just kept feeling like along the way, smaller elements needed to be tweaked and changed. I think fans of Anderson's novel will enjoy seeing how this novel translated to the big screen.


  1. I discovered this movie after I read the book about three years ago. The only thing I don't like about the movie is how different the art teacher is. There was just a lot more emotion there than I remember in the book, and I wasn't fond of it. But I greatly enjoyed the movie, even though it's difficult for me to watch because it makes me sad.

  2. I really enjoyed the movie Speak but yeah, it felt a bit amateurish. Actually, I got more of a "made-for-TV" vibe about it. Like it was created for Lifetime or something. Still, it was pretty true to the book so I appreciated that about it.

  3. I thought the movie was great. I stumbled upon it while I was searching for every movie the Kristen Stewart starred in. I had no idea that this was an adaptation from a novel, now I really need to read that book.

  4. I saw this movie a couple of years ago on TV. It was good, I don't think I would have rented it. TV was the perfect place for me to find it. I also don't really like Kristen Stewart, but she wasn't horrible in this one.

  5. Whoa, I didn't know about this at all! Kristen Stewart...sigh. This makes me hesitant but your thoughts trump my not-so-stellar feelings about her acting.

  6. Beth, I'm pretty sure it actually was a Lifetime original movie. I know it has aired on that channel before. Glad to hear it wasn't bad though!



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