Midnight Bay-OH HELL NO

29 03 2009
I should have known the movie would suck when I saw this picture

I should have known the movie would suck when I saw this picture

Hi, my name is Elizabeth and I’m addicted to Nora Roberts.  *Phew*  I feel so much better now that I have that off my chest.  My addiction runs deep and true – I’ve read everything she’s written, seen all the movies based on her books and subscribe to her newsletter.  I feel like I should be ashamed of this – I mean, I’m a smart independent woman, what the hell am I doing addicted to romance novels?  Here’s the thing, I’m not ashamed because Nora Roberts is better than most romance authors.  Her books are predictable but still delightful and surprisingly well written.  There’s a comfort I get from her books.  So, not only is Nora one of my favorite authors, she has again contracted with Lifetime (!) to produce four of her novels into Lifetime Original Movies (!!!).  And this time around, they made Midnight Bayou.

Okay, so this book is fantastic.  Boston lawyer Declan Fitzgerald, turns his back on his boring white wealthy lawyer life and buys an old plantation house on the bayou outside of New Orleans.  Of course he falls in love with a local girl, Lena, and the house is haunted and they are connected to the history and have to fight to save the past…and their future.  This is a favorite basic Nora Roberts plot. But the beauty is in the details, and Midnight Bayou may be my favorite of the haunted/house tales, because in this one, Declan is the one fainting all over the place and needing rescuing all the time.  Nora’s a big fan of tossing out traditional gender roles (just wait for my essay on the In Death series) and I couldn’t wait to see how Lifetime adapted this.

Now, I never thought I’d say this, but Lifetime failed.  HARD.  They had a great cast including FAYE FREAKING DUNAWAY and Jerry O’Connell.  They shot in New Orleans and the house they used was gorgeous (the handpainted wallpaper in the foyer made me ache with wanting).  But they went and made AWFUL changes to the story.  I’m not a spazz when it comes to adaptations, I get that changes have to be made to go from book to screen.  But I get angry when pointless adjustments are made that change the entire character of the original.  Like the fact that Declan isn’t rehabbing the house in the movie – which is a major part of the book. Or FAYE FREAKING DUNAWAY’s character, Miss Odette, grandmother to Lena and neighbor of Declan- in the book she’s a nice older lady, smart and funny with a bit of “kitchen magic” and someone I’d love to have as a neighbor.  In the movie?  Scary old voodooo witch next door, the kind I’d worry about ever offending because she may just leave a dead rabbit on my welcome mat.  This change didn’t make any sense and cheapened the story.  And then there’s the ending – which, I understand why they needed a change (the book’s conclusion is a bit…underwhelming, especially for a movie), it was such a drastic departure from the novel, my sister and I just kept saying What. The. Fuck. over and over.

There were a bunch of other things they effed around with and I could go on and on, but I’ll spare you.  But, if you watched this movie and thought “hey, that didn’t really make a lot of sense and was actually kinda awful and therefore Nora Roberts must suck,” please believe me when I say she doesn’t.  Go and read the original book, or better yet Tribute, which is the final Lifetime adaptation this year starring Brittany Murphy (meh) and Jason Lewis (yay! – especially because the character is a graphic novelist.  Be still my beating geek heart.) and airs on April 11.  Fingers crossed it doesn’t blow as much as Midnight Bayou.

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2 responses

30 03 2009
Julia

Steph and I started to watch this last night and it scared the hell out of me. Needless to say, we stopped watching after 20 minutes. You know how I feel about Lifetime movies- pretty much the opposite of you and my roommates. I try time and time again to watch one, and then things like this come on and make me wonder “why, oh, why?!” all over again. FAIL.

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