Oscar-nominating producer Noah Baumbach‘s next film centers on the lives of three Brown alumni—a writer struggling to complete a novel, a television producer, and a freelance critic—as they transition into their 30’s with personal and professional woes. The film based on Claire Messud’s The Emperor’s Child (2006) is praised by literary critics (“near-miraculous perfection”), but apparently loathed by Amazon reviewers who gave it two-and-a-half stars.
After scanning the novel (thanks, Google books!), I’m going to have to side with Amazon-ers on this one. Not only are the fictional Brown alumni pretentious (and self-absorbed) but the writing is. I had trouble turning the pages–er pressing the arrow key–because of the unreadable prose. Maybe I’m just an unsophisticated reader of contemporary literature. Maybe this epic sentence is actually literary genius!?:
“She was writing, in this chapter, about the long-standing Western habit of dressing a child like someone else: like an older child, or like a parent, or like someone entirely; and she was comparing this to those ventriloquists whose dummies were attired to match them, among other things, and making, or attempting to, a broader point about how children have been seen as emanations of their parents, and she needed to fit in there somehow the inverse argument, based around, say, the Laura Ashley ensembles of the seventies, in which mother and daughter both were swathed in frilly floral smocks in a reenactment—or curiously ironic restatement, perhaps, in the era of women’s sexual liberation—of Victorian girlhood, in which case the question was, were they all, mothers and daughters, celebrating the repression of their sexuality, or its untrammeling”?
I’ll probably watch the film adaption anyway because I liked Baumbach’s most recent work Greenberg. Hopefully he’ll tweak the characters in The Emperors’ Child so they’re not so whiny and dull.