Watch for Kirkus’ upcoming columns on The World To Come, a movie version of the titular short story in Jim Shepard’s Kirkus-starred 2017 collection (premiering Feb. 12); and Cherry, a movie version of Nico Walker’s 2018 novel, which also received a Kirkus Star (premiering Feb. 26). Here are four other notable adaptations heading to screens big or small in the coming month:
Feb. 3: Firefly Lane (Series Premiere, Netflix)
A movie version of Kristin Hannah’s The Nightingale, starring Dakota and Elle Fanning was in midproduction when the Covid-19 pandemic hit and delayed its release date to Dec. 22, 2021. In the meantime, fans of Hannah’s work can take comfort in this TV series adaptation of 2008’s Firefly Lane. It stars Katherine Heigl and Scrubs’ Sarah Chalke as two lifelong friends—one a force of nature, the other more cautious—who navigate the ups and downs of their complicated relationship over many years. Some aspects of the story call to mind Beaches, Iris Rainer Dart’s 1985 bestseller, and its hit movie adaptation, and the new show is sure to appeal to fans of those works. The series’ creator and showrunner is Maggie Friedman, who developed the Lifetime TV show Witches of East End, based on the 2011 fantasy novel by Melissa de la Cruz, and executive-produced the fun but short-lived CW romantic-comedy series No Tomorrow.
Feb. 12: The Map of Tiny Perfect Things (Film Premiere, Amazon Prime Video)
The hit 1993 comedy Groundhog Day, about a man who inexplicably experiences the same day over and over, had a dynamite premise that inspired later films, such as 2014’s Edge of Tomorrow and 2017’s Happy Death Day, and the Netflix TV show Russian Doll. Just last year, Hulu released the film Palm Springs, in which two strangers, a man and a woman, fall in love while stuck in a similar time loop. A very similar setup drives the SF romance The Map of Tiny Perfect Things, but two things make the new film stand out from the crowd: It’s based on a 2016 short story by The Magicians’ Lev Grossman, who adapted it for the screen himself, and it co-stars Kathryn Newton, an enormously talented TV and film actor who starred in the well-received horror film Freaky last year and had a memorable role in the Netflix series The Society. Kirkus also singled out Grossman’s story as “brilliant” in its starred review of the 2016 love-story anthology Summer Days and Summer Nights.
Feb. 12: The Mauritanian (Film Premiere)
This dramatic adaptation of Mohamedou Ould Slahi’s 2015 prison memoir, Guantánamo Diary, stars French actor Tahar Rahim as the author, Jodie Foster and Shailene Woodley as his lawyers, and Benedict Cumberbatch as a military prosecutor. Slahi was held at the Guantánamo Bay detention center for 14 years without charge; in his book, he tells of how he was regularly tortured during his imprisonment. The first edition of his memoir, which Kirkus called “essential reading for anyone concerned with human rights and the rule of law,” featured heavy, blacked-out redactions by U.S. government officials; an unredacted version was published in 2017, following Slahi’s release. The new material allows for a fuller adaptation, and the deep bench of acting talent makes this film worth a watch. It’s directed by Kevin Macdonald, who helmed the acclaimed 2006 film of Giles Foden’s 1998 novel, The Last King of Scotland.
Feb. 22: Beartown (Series Premiere, HBO Max)
HBO Max imported this five-episode adaptation of Swedish author Fredrik Backman’s 2017 novel from the Scandinavian service HBO Nordic. The book, which was translated from the Swedish by Neil Smith, tells the story of what happens in a small town that’s obsessed with youth hockey when its local team’s star player is accused of rape by the daughter of the team’s manager. Kirkus’ reviewer favorably compared the novel to Friday Night Lights, noting that “it’s part coming-of-age novel, part study of moral failure, and finally a chronicle of groupthink in which an unlikely hero steps forward to save more than one person from self-destruction.” This promising Swedish-language series stars newcomers Miriam Ingrid and Oliver Dufåker, as well as Ulf Stenberg, who was nominated for a Guldbagge Award, a major Swedish film industry honor, in 2019.
David Rapp is the senior Indie editor.