Cinema: The Adaptation as Antique Show

Two new films replace inner lives with interior decoration

A great novel is concerned primarily with the interior lives of its characters as they respond to the inconvenient narratives that fate imposes on them. Movie adaptations of these monumental fictions often fail because they become mere exercises in interior decoration, searches for the armoire or settee that can serve as the objective correlative for a character's unspoken, perhaps dramatically unspeakable, fears and fancies. One may therefore wish to approach Swann in Love or The Bostonians undemandingly, almost as one would an antique show, browsing and ruminative but not expecting to make powerful...

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