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Special Topics in Film Adaptation


I tend to be a little wary of good books being turned into movies, but I'm excited about the news that author Marisha Pessl's Special Topics in Calamity Physics will be adapted for the big screen.

As I said when I reviewed it last year, Special Topics is a sprawling, 500-page behemoth that tends to get a little too wrapped up in its own quirkiness. Making it a film would almost require ditching some of the clunky descriptions and over-my-head literary references, reducing the novel to the most basic elements of its story: a teenager who's too smart for her own good tries to a) fit in with a cool high school crowd, b) solve the mystery of her favorite teacher's death, and c) understand her own vagabond childhood. Sure, that would take away some of the book's unique charms, but it would also simplify and focus it on the strongest parts of the story. And really, I'm OK with ditching Blue's pen-and-ink drawings.

I also have confidence in the team behind the adaptation: Ryan Fleck and Anna Boden, who were responsible for Half Nelson. They'll be co-writing the adaptation, and Fleck will direct it, the same setup that worked so well for Half Nelson.

Now, the biggest challenge will be to find the perfect girl to play Blue. Jena Malone still looks like a high schooler, right?

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