I'm always nervous about book-turned-movies, especially if it's a YA book that the movie is based on. YA just seems to me like a literary genre that gets most of its strength from emotional, mental, and psychological aspects. In other words, "off-screen" moments, thoughts, and descriptions that don't translate too well onto the screen; it mostly ends up consisting of the actors and actresses standing around, slouching sullenly, their faces pulled into long expressions of loneliness, frustration, angst, etc various-minute-alterations-to-facial-expressions-and-body-language-that-are-difficult-to-detect.
Kristen Stewart's performance as Melinda Sordino in Speak was certainly no different. Lots of standing around, lots of loaded silences and stares that intend to portray that which was not said in dialogue. This is the unfortunate side effect of translating a book that occurs mostly in the protagonist's head onto the silver screen, I'm realizing.
HOWEVER (and that's a big however), I am by no means saying that this movie wasn't good. In fact, it was pretty darn good. It was a little weird seeing faces that I recognized from other movies playing out these characters (um, hello? Will Stronghold from Sky High? Bella Swan?), but maybe I just have trouble distinguishing typical awkwardness as seen from the eyes of an adolescent versus the awkwardness of unintentionally stilted acting. Aiyah.
What really got me, though, was Kristen's portrayal of the rape scene. Not that I have very movie rape scenes to compare this one to (I think Last Tango in Paris had a sort of-ish one, but I didn't like that movie so it shouldn't count), but... it was just so... heartwrenching. Ack! I wanted to throw a hammer at the guy, provided I had a hammer on hand and provided that I then had the thousand or so dollars it would've cost to fix the screen. Kristen was also amazing at showing Melinda's growth over the school year, from a frightened and reticent "freshmeat" to a more assertive girl.
I can't lie and say that I really liked the movie, because the book will always have a special place in my heart, but if you're looking for a decent adaptation of a YA book, you should check Speak out.
Orrr if you have, what did you think of it? I'd love to know! :)
Holy crap I just checked on IMDB and apparently Kristen Stewart and one of her costars from Speak (Michael Angarano, Dave Petrakis in this movie) are, um, going out? Hehe. Cute. Michael's one of those cute sort-of awkward types that I will crush incessantly and futilely on. Cute.