Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Michelle Adelman's "Piece of Mind"

Michelle Adelman has an MFA in Writing from Columbia University, and BS and MS degrees in Journalism from Northwestern University. She has worked as a magazine writer and editor, a university instructor, and a high school English teacher and dean. She grew up in Connecticut and has lived in New York, San Diego, and the Bay Area, where she currently resides.

Here she dreamcasts an adaptation of Piece of Mind, her first novel:
One of the first questions people like to ask me—after they inquire about whether my book has yet hit the New York Times bestseller list, and when Oprah will be spreading the word about my genius—is whether I’ve sold my movie rights. Not yet, I say, and then I laugh. But I’d be lying if I said I didn’t at least consider the possibility of my book as movie. My novel is already dominated by dialogue delivered by quirky characters, and thus it’s easy to imagine different actors trying to inhabit these roles.

The 27-year-old protagonist, Lucy—brain injured, vulnerable and messy in every sense of the word—seems like a wonderful vehicle for any young actress seeking a rich, complex performance. I often think of an unknown actress in this role, someone who can establish her career with the part of a lifetime. But when I first imagined Lucy on the screen, I pictured a young Toni Colette trying to shape the character with her fierce heart and spirit. After watching Brie Larson’s raw performance in Room, I could see her taking on the challenge as well—losing any semblance of celebrity in the role and morphing into the character.

Since I’ve allowed myself to dream of Academy Award winners, I can see Meryl Streep as the deceased mother, both in flashback and ghost form, and Shirley MacLaine or Ellen Burstyn as the feisty, yet elegant older confidante, Enid. I can see Mandy Patinkin as Lucy’s overprotective Jewish father. In many ways, he’s a perfect fit.

The role of Lucy’s 21-year-old brother, Nate, would probably be taken on by an unknown, though in my fantasies, I can imagine him as a young Ryan Gosling, the vulnerable and handsome actor in his Half Nelson days, or Joseph Gordon-Levitt in his youth, someone who has shown so much emotional range without losing his charm or overall appeal. Perhaps someone like the young version of Jake Gyllenhaal, the guy who first wowed audiences in his Donnie Darko days.

I dream of indie film directors and producers taking notice, Sofia Coppola, perhaps, or the Duplass brothers, as despite my highly paid dream cast, I can see this adaptation as a small, gritty film with a great deal of heart.
Visit Michelle Adelman's website.

--Marshal Zeringue