This weekend, the film version of Jonathan Tropper’s This is Where I Leave You (read my previous post on the book here) was released in theaters. The film stars Jason Bateman, Tina Fey, Jane Fonda, Corey Stoll, and Adam Driver as the Altman family. The patriarch of the Altman family has just died and he last request was that his family sit Shiva to mourn his death. For those of you who do not know, Shiva is a Jewish custom where the immediate family members of the deceased gather in one home to observe a seven day period of mourning. To honor the death of their father, these four adult siblings gather in their childhood home for one week.
The film version is a notably condensed version of the book. There were things that I noticed that were cut or changed for time, and a few that were surely changed because of the difficulty of filming. There was one scene in particular that I wondered how they would film, and the answer was that the would skip it all together, which I felt was unfortunate, but understandable. There were some semi-major plot points that were changed, explantations that I felt were missed, but most of all, I missed the voice of the narrator. The book is entirely narrated by the Jud Altman (Bateman) and I really missed his commentary on what all was happening.
I still enjoyed the movie, but I mostly just made me want to re-read the book. On the other hand, I saw the film with my mother who felt the movie was even better than the book. I thought that was interesting, but this is the reason I think she felt that way. When I read the book, I heard the voices of Jason Bateman, Tina Fey, and all of the rest of the cast who were all so exquisitely cast. My mother did not. Therefore she missed out on the characterization that only these actors could have brought to these roles. When I read the book, I basically saw the extended version of the film in my head. I would be interested in hearing what someone who has not read the book at all thought of the film.
Overall, the film was great. It was really well made and was exactly what it needed to be. If you did not read the book at all, or did not hear the story told with Bateman’s voice in your head, I am sure the movie will be everything you are hoping it will be.