May 8, 2012

Dean Speaks About the Odd Thomas Movie

Gerda and I and two friends just saw the completed Odd Thomas film. It is so wonderful that I am whacked flat by happiness. It makes no missteps, races forward with unrelenting momentum, is gripping, and has great heart, and even has an excellent score! It is a totally fresh wind in the genres upon which it touches, and we felt that we were seeing one of those rare productions with the potential to dramatically alter how other filmmakers approach such movies in the future.

Stephen Sommers, the director, said from day one that Anton Yelchin was his only choice to play Odd and that if Anton didn’t want to do it, the film would never be quite what it could have been. I’ll admit to being skeptical. But once you see Anton in this, you know you have seen the best of all possible Odds. He is soooo good! This young man is a remarkable talent, and he brings great heart to the role. He handles the action scenes with tremendous energy and conviction, but he really, really shines when it comes to selling the love story, the emotion, as well as Odd’s humility and sweet nature.

The four of us were also in agreement that Addison Timlin is Stormy Llewellyn. She is no less powerful than Anton, giving a nuanced and utterly charming performance. Every guy in the audience will be in love with her, and I expect every woman will want her as best friend forever. She and Anton have such chemistry that this film is a thriller that is also a beautiful love story; that love story, combined with the action and scares, makes this a date movie for the ages. The audience–men, women, young, old—were laughing when they should have been, jumping when they should have been, and in tears when they should have been.

Steve has taken chances in the way he has crossed genres, in the density of story detail highly unusual in movies of this nature, and in the visual sophistication with which this has been edited. The movie comes at you with all kinds of transitions that you have not seen before, and if you’re interested in directorial technique, it’s worth studying.

Faithful to the book? Yes, in every way that matters. Odd is Odd. Stormy is Stormy. The themes are rigorously adhered to. Is much missing? Yes. Ozzie has one scene, and he has become a sculptor instead of a mystery writer. Odd’s backstory–mom and dad–has been condensed to one scene because test audiences found the backstory too dark. Odd has been given a new power: He sometimes touches someone/something and has startling visions of how some real event went down earlier, as a means of conveying facts without talking-head scenes, but it really, really works.

Based on past experiences, I wasn’t sure anyone could ever adapt a Koontz book as a feature film and capture the flavor and essentials of it. Steve Sommers has done it with great panache. It should hit theaters sometime this winter. There’s probably a law against being as happy as I am right now.

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