Even though Japanese author Haruki Murakami has finally found popularity and fame around the world, the seemingly inevitable feature adaptations of his work have been slow to develop. That’s Murakami’s fault. Apparently unable to understand that his job is now to hoard lucrative options rather than get down to finishing another novel, he’s been slow to dole out rights to his books.
Now he’s finally given up the rights to Norwegian Wood, the 1987 novel that made him a superstar in Japan and planted the seeds for global success. Directing is The Scent of Green Papaya‘s Tran Anh Hung, who is currently finishing I Come With The Rain with Josh Hartnett and Elias Koteas.
It’s easy to be relieved at first by the choice of material; Norwegian Wood superficially seems like an easier adaptation than Murakami’s more uneasy and mystical stuff like The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle or Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World. But Wood, which chronicles student Toru Watanabe’s involvement with two women during the political and musical upheaval of the late ’60s, is a quiet, internal story without an explicit resolution. Tran Anh Hung, who plans a Japanese-language film, is a good directorial choice, but I remain skeptical at best. A February start is being planned for a 2010 release.
Behind every great book adaptation is a forgettable first try. — By Ryan Covey