Young adult books getting movie adaptations are nothing new to us. But that doesn't mean it leaves no room for interest, especially if the chosen story is something that left us shedding tears and tugged our heartstrings. Just look at Stephen Chbosky's The Perks of Being A Wallflower and John Green's The Fault In Our Stars and Paper Towns, which both topped the charts for books and movies. And now, we have our latest addition to this genre in Rainbow Rowell's 2013 hit Eleanor & Park.
As soon as it was announced that the movie rights to the global bestseller were bought by Picturestart and Plan B, it caused immediate buzz and excitement. After all, its story of two misfits navigating through themes of identity, family, and romance — as well as issues of racism, abuse, and bullying — definitely made it compelling to many. Unfortunately, no more details were spilt regarding the start of production date nor the projected screening. So while we let time pass, let's look at these book moments we'd definitely want to see onscreen.
Casting the right Eleanor and Park
One of the things we loved about this book is that both Eleanor and Park were not considered conventionally attractive. In fact, Eleanor's awkwardness, bushy red hair and tendency to be "a bully magnet" were just some of the things that immediately caught Park's attention. They were misfits; they didn't care and it felt effortless to feel what it was like to be in their shoes. Even the book's most quoted line comparing Eleanor to art tells us that the foundation of these two characters' relationship focuses on things beyond physical beauty.
This is why we're looking forward to how the movie will cast its two leads. Eleanor & Park is one of those source materials that have the tendency to fall into Hollywood's 'adaptational attractiveness' trope. This refers to characters who are made 'too pretty' or 'too handsome' as compared to their original counterparts. How Eleanor and Park would look and act play a huge role in how people will be able to connect with the film. So we can only hope that Hollywood won't do us dirty on this one.
Their highs-and-lows in the bus
It's typical for young adult stories to deliver some type of unrealistic meet-cute moments (we're looking at you, John Green). But Eleanor and Park's meeting is so mundane so we can't wait how the movie will play it out. The bus started out as alien territory to both characters in the beginning since they were objects of either isolation or bullying. But their interactions in the bus built the start of their relationship even before words were spoken, even making it a temporary sanctuary. Because of this, it will definitely be interesting to see how the nuances of the characters' actions will translate onscreen even without the use of bold movements or spoken dialogue. After all, the book characters don't even have a decent conversation until Chapter 10.
After roughly nine chapters in the book, we are shown all the problematic things happening around Eleanor and Park's lives, but more so of Eleanor's unfortunate living situation. While we're sure that the movie will include these crucial parts, we're more excited to see how the small moments of bliss in between painful moments will be highlighted. One of which is the moment after their first conversation, leading to Park creating a mixtape — as well as packing more comic books — for Eleanor. And as expected of any romance movie with mixtapes involved, The Smiths is part of the list.
But while there is a certain cliché surrounding the mixtape idea, we still want to see it played out onscreen because of how it intersects right in the middle of one of the book's most heartbreaking scenes. It became Eleanor's momentary escape from the ruins that is her home and the judgement she often faces in school. It was also when she started to realise that she might like Park for his kindness. This transitions us from the highs-and-lows of their bus interactions to an actual budding friendship.
The moment Park fights back to defend Eleanor
Ah, young love. Eleanor & Park isn't really something mindblowing love-storytelling. But it didn't fail at making our hearts flutter either, especially when Park decided to help end the bullying towards Eleanor. While we don't exactly applaud violence, it's Park's reaction and entire thought process leading up to this moment that made it a scene to root for.
Park's entire perspective on the matter negates the idea that 'love is blind' but rather that love makes us look at someone in a uniquely wondrous manner — enough for us to feel hurt and angry on behalf of them. It was also in this moment that Park officially labelled their relationship as being girlfriend and boyfriend, and that Eleanor visited Park's home the second time around feeling less awkward.
The three words
Two misfits finding love, happiness, and safety to be themselves around each other makes you root for them until the end. But those who read Eleanor & Park know that we're not in for a completely happy ending with this one. In the latter parts of the book, they went on to slowly fall apart and be their own people, at first trying to make a long distance relationship work until they simply began fading into mere memories of a love lost. We get some glimpses of how they sometimes still miss each other or remember the time they got consumed by a love so accepting. It ends with Park receiving a postcard from Eleanor containing three words that were never disclosed to the audience.
It has been an ongoing debate online as to what those words were and people have speculated that maybe we'll see it in the movie adaptation. Did Eleanor finally say 'I love you' back to Park? Was it that she missed him? Or did it say 'I am happy' seeing that Park was contented upon reading it?
Will the movie give the book a definitive ending? We'll just have to wait to find out.