Tuesday, December 13, 2011

REVIEW: A&E presents Stephen King's Bag of Bones

I have to get this right out front: I am in love with Bag of Bones the novel. I reach a height of fangirling with this one that's even higher than my normal Stephen King fangirling, and the normal level sometimes makes strangers ask why I'm allowed to roam the streets unaccompanied. King is fairly well-known as a seat-of-the-pants writer who makes things up as he goes along. This makes the mystery and ghost story that makes up the book even more remarkable, if King is to be believed when he saws that the bones--sorry--of it were there right from the first draft. By 1998, he had also been at his game long enough to develop a grace and restraint in his writing without which the eerie, largely psychological tale would not be nearly so powerful. I did a little dance when I found out that A&E was going to be adapting it into a miniseries.

Alas, it was to be a disappointment in the end. Brosnan was an odd choice to play Mike Noonan right from the beginning, much too patrician for Noonan's Everyman. He also chose to keep his British accent...but his brother, Sid, is still American. The fault doesn't lie solely with Brosnan; part of the reason Bag of Bones resonates so strongly as a book is the paranoid interplay between Noonan's grief and love for his wife, and his fear that she might have been cheating on him before her untimely death. That would be a steep mountain any screenwriter to climb. The one in charge of this adaptation had Noonan muttering to himself a lot.

That being said, there was one actor who stood out from the rest of the cast by several big steps. I always root for Sara when I reread the book (and had a literal LOL moment when The Green Lady popped Mike one for thinking than an apology was going to make gang-rape and murder go away, because I probably would have done the same thing...you know, if I was a decades-old spirit driven mad on grief and pain), and Anika Noni Rose's portrayal of her was spectacular. Sara is primarily a mood in the book, a figure seen from the corner of the eye and gone by the time that Mike turns around, but Rose made the most of every single moment she was onscreen in portraying Sara's fury, grit, and defiance. Easily the best part of the miniseries, though a runners-up nod goes to the music people for contriving so many different ways for Sara to speak her piece through song when she wasn't visible. I also have to say that I laughed, albeit a little bemused, when the big denouement boiled down to Sara and Jo yelling at each other for a few moments. Yes, Bag of Bones was written just as King was beginning to put the Dark Tower mythos into everything that he wrote, but I promise, the audience would have been able to follow a nod or two.

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