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A Separate Peace
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First the Good: The role of Finny has got to be one of the hardest parts out there to cast. The part calls for natural athleticism and tremendous charisma - a truly rare combination (especially in actors). Toby Moore was great casting. I have no idea who he is or where he came from. He had an almost impossible task, and he nailed it. The actors who played Gene and Brinker also performed admirably. If it had a script that stuck to the actual Knowles' story, this film might have been something very special.
Now to the Bad: Knowles' story is much more than a story about adolescent friendship and betrayal. It is about how a person can only find peace within himself when he is forced to face his own darkness. Finny, who knows only love and forgiveness, seems to be the only exception to this rule - and because of that, he is destroyed by his best friend. By the end, Gene makes peace with Finny and finally finds peace within. The writer and director missed much of these key elements. Important scenes are brought to life beautifully, but we never really get inside Gene's head, so we can't understand how or why he achieves a 'separate peace.'
The writers also decided to omit the other key theme of the book: Finny as a representation of peace in world at war. While Finny talks like he was rearing to go to war, he in fact is unable to do so - because of his leg, but also because it is not possible for him to hate (as Gene describes in the final 'you'd be terrible in a war, Finny!' dialogue).Read more ›
That being said, I think this movie is excellent. Of course, I am in a unique position. I watched the movie first, and then was so intrigued, I went on to read the book. Had I fallen in love with the book first, I may very well have found the movie disappointing like many of the other reviewers. But since I saw the movie on its own without comparing it to the book, I was able to see how this movie is an artistic work with its own merits, irrespective of the challenges of bringing a classic novel to the screen.
The strongest actor in this film is Toby Moore, who steals almost every scene he's in as Finny. He radiates charisma, which is perfect for a character who Knowles wrote as being able to "shine with everyone, he attracted everyone he met." He's a character incapable of hating anyone or holding a grudge, and a character who no one can help but like. I could not have imagined him portrayed any better.
Some scenes are added to the movie that are not in the book, but I feel these scenes are useful in developing characters and relationships that are developed through straight description in the book. We see how the war plays a role in these boys' lives--a distant joke at first, and then one of the boys goes off to the Army and comes back different--disheveled, mentally broken.Read more ›
That being said, of you are thinking about purchasing this film and have never read the book, you may very well enjoy it. As I said, there are many good attributes to this film and people not familiar with the book could find it riveting. If you love the book, you may be somewhat disappointed that the film seems to lack some intensity and may also find it somewhat slow paced. Of course, if you are a student purchasing the film to avoid reading the book, I would not recommend. The film does follow the basic plot line of the novel, but that something that makes A SEPARATE PEACE such a great work is missing in this film version.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I was actually looking for the one with Parker Stevenson in it but this one was very nice and the show did remind me of the older version so I am not too disappointed. Read morePublished 5 months ago by Blanchard
Great movie. Watched 3/4 of it, and it froze and wouldn't continue. Could not watch the end of the movie. :(Published 6 months ago by LM
Great movie to share with the kids. The book was a favorite of mine growing up, reading it several times. I believe they captured Finny perfectly in the movie.Published 17 months ago by 30ABeachBum
Adequate production value but woefully inadequate acting skills turn this classic novel into a very poor film. Don't bother, read the book instead.Published 20 months ago by R. Drayton Fair