I gave the book 4 stars and really liked the way the author, Matthew Quick, portrayed mental illness and the difficulties of day-to-day life. The movie felt too much watered-down for me, like they took a heavy and gritty story and made it more “palatable” for Hollywood.
The differences between the book and movie in this case took a lot away from the characters’ transformation. The book was a tale of a lost man struggling to get a grip on reality, only to find out slowly that what he thought was real, was not. The movie was much simpler—man acts in anger, goes to mental facility, gets released, and tries to reunite with his wife. It seems feasible. But in the book, things are revealed that show that how Pat sees things is not at all how things really are. The entire ending was much different. Can’t say much about it without spoilers, but it felt a bit watered down for a wider audience, whereas the book is much more heartbreaking, kind of. (There is a silver lining.)
None of the little quirks that made the book so good were in the movie. The characters were made to feel more “normal” in the movie, where in the book, it was clear that Pat’s emotional state and anger issues have taken him to a much darker place. His letters back and forth with Nikki, which were really significant in the book, were almost non-existent in the movie. There was one letter exchange and that’s it. Pat’s obsession with everything is toned down, especially his reading. In the book, he read all of the books that Nikki taught, and in the movie he only read one.
Most of it was the same, though toned down, as I’ve said. The ending was different, which did change the importance of certain aspects throughout the plot. I felt that the book ending was much more fitting and the movie ending felt “happier.” But without really being inside the characters’ heads, some of the plot points, like Pat going to the game and running into his therapist, the dance competition, the letters—all of these things seemed minor in the movie, but were huge in the book.
The movie was well done, it just felt like it was changed to be less dark and more “acceptable” to a wider audience. The book is gritty and real, scary at times, and much of that was removed or severely lessened in the movie. If you didn’t read the book, or only liked it a bit, you’ll like the movie, but if you really liked the book like I did (I gave it 4 stars), you’ll probably be a little disappointed.
Did you see the movie? What did you think?