top of page
  • Writer's pictureAlice Spencer

Cinema Paradiso, To Die for Sushi and Books to the Big Screen

On the southern tip of Soneva Jani are Cinema Paradiso and Directors Cut, an outdoor cinema and a Japanese restaurant. The cinema screen is built over the water and guests can lounge on nets, feet dangling over the sea, or sit and enjoy their dinner whilst watching a classic film and listening through Bluetooth headsets. The cinema is ‘silent’ in this manner so as not to disturb the surrounding wildlife.

It was here that I and some island friends visited this week, keen to try out the delights of the dining destination. We hopped the stepping stones from the shore out to the overwater restaurant and nestled down in a corner sofa to watch Good Will Hunting on the big screen.

Directors Cut’s Head Chef is Chef Nikki, who specialises in serving modern style sashimi, black cod and other Japanese favourites with a contemporary twist. The result is unbelievably delicious and incredibly distracting from Good Will Hunting.

It is special and relaxing to watch the big screen here. And as always, when thinking about cinema and tv series, my mind wanders to the books that inspire and inform the stories. Here are some of my favourite book to screen adaptations.

White Teeth by Zadie Smith

Zadie Smith’s debut novel White Teeth, published in 2000, was an instant bestseller and received a tidal wave of critical acclaim. It’s one of my personal favourites of Smith’s writing and is an epic to get lost in. The story follows two best friends Samad Iqbal and Archie Jones, and their families across three decades in North West London; focussing on Britain’s relationships with people from former British Colonies. Each character plays a crucial part in the weaving narrative and the ending is brilliant.

In 2002 the BBC released their four-part drama adaptation which really does the book justice. The actors portray the character flaws and humanness vividly watching it feels like jumping right back to the 90’s.

Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

Charlie, our 15-year-old protagonist, is writing letters about his experience of high school and his struggles in letters to an unknown person. Despite being a ‘wallflower’, he is befriended by some older students and is launched into their world of adolescence. He is dealing with the grief from his middle school best friend’s suicide, the death of his aunt. Throughout the story Charlie witnesses his sister’s boyfriend hitting her, learns of his friend’s secret gay relationship, and supports a friend who was abused as a child.

The film adaptation released in 2012 was written and directed by the author of the book and went on to win awards and a huge amount of praise. I’d highly recommend watching for a brilliant, nuanced coming-of-age film.

Normal People by Sally Rooney

Yes, the Normal People book and series are already hugely famous but I had to give it a mention! The story follows the relationship between Marianne and Connell from school to university, the love, friendship and fascination that draws them together and pulls them apart. As addictive as I found the book when I read it I was undecided on how much I would recommend it due to so many of the characters being unlikeable, (though I know this is no reason to not like a book, most teenagers are unlikable!)

The TV series was released in April 2020 and was an immediate hit, the adaptation is brilliant and has given me a new-found appreciation for the book.

Oliver Twist by Charles Dicken

What a book! What a film! Who doesn’t love a combination of witty Dickens writing and super catchy musical songs, no more needs to be said!

A Kestrel for a Knave

A compulsory read for northern English school children, of which I was one. A young boy from a troubled and poor home finds and trains a kestrel, the story intertwined with parts of his tough home and school life. The book was published in 1968, made into the film Kes in 1969, and has since been regarded as a great British film.

Wild by Cheryl Strayed

An incredible journey of self-discovery informed by the author’s life, Wild is the story of a woman setting out to walk the Pacific Crest Trail, an 1100-mile hike as an escape from her life of drug use, grief and dangerous misdirection. She has never hiked before so the physical challenges are incredibly tough and on top of these, she turns emotional and spiritual corners in her life.

The film stars Reece Witherspoon, whose film company optioned the rights, the script was written by novelist Nick Hornby and the amazing cinematography brought the book to life.

As we munched on our desert of Matcha tea chocolate brownie, followed by bags of popcorn we could feel the sea breeze on our legs and appreciated every moment of this perfect big-screen storytelling setting.

1 Comment

Mar 27, 2021

It all sounds like magic! And I always love reading about another new book!

bottom of page