by Jen Moyers (@jen.loves.books)
Last week, we discussed the film adaptation of Lauren Weisberger's The Devil Wears Prada (Bookshop.org | Libro.fm). Looming large in our discussion was, of course, the brilliant Meryl Streep: she embodies Miranda Priestley so fully that we couldn't imagine anyone else in the role.
Given her brilliance, I thought it might be fun to highlight some other adaptations of which Streep has been a part. She has, of course, starred in many, many adaptations of books, and I couldn't include them all. So I placed some restrictions on my picks: I had to have both read the book AND seen the movie, and I had to have enjoyed the adaptation. Here are a few to check out.
Little Women (2019), based on Louise May Alcott's Little Women (Bookshop.org | Libro.fm)
I was skeptical going into this new adaptation of Alcott's novel because I loved the 1994 production—starring Winona Ryder, Christian Bale, and Susan Sarandon—so much. But this adaptation is pure magic. From the first moment, this film captured the feeling of Alcott's novel, and Meryl Streep as Aunt March struck the perfect crotchety tone for that character, particularly once she upends Jo's expectations for her trip to Europe.
Julie and Julia (2009), based on Julie Powell's Julie and Julia: My Year of Cooking Dangerously (Bookshop.org | Libro.fm - Abridged Version)
As with The Devil Wears Prada, I enjoyed the adaptation (or at least Streep's half of it, playing Julia Child) more than the book. I watched it first, and after being bowled over by Streep, I was quite nervous. But the book is worth reading, though it's a very different experience than the film . . . and that lead performance bringing Child to life is stunning. (Also, she's united again with Stanley Tucci, who Sara and I loved so much in The Devil Wears Prada!)
The Hours (2002), based on Michael Cunningham's The Hours (Bookshop.org | Libro.fm)
Both of these are masterpieces, though I think the book has stuck with me a little more. The Hours weaves together the lives of three women: Virginia Woolf; Mrs. Brown, who is reading Mrs. Dalloway; and Clarissa Vaughn, a modern woman who is based on the protagonist of Mrs. Dalloway (Streep plays Clarissa). This is a novel that loves literature and a film that pays tribute to the same.
The Bridges of Madison County (1995), based on Robert James Waller's The Bridges of Madison County (Bookshop.org | Libro.fm)
So, I should admit here that I've neither watched nor read this one since it came out in '95, but I thoroughly loved both at the time. I can never get out of my head an interview I saw with Streep where she talked about her acting choices in playing Francesca, who has an affair with Clint Eastwood's National Geographic photographer. Listening to her talk about her craft was awe inspiring.
Out of Africa (1985), based on Isak Dineson's Out of Africa (Bookshop.org | Libro.fm)
This is another one I haven't read or watched for years, but I still have vivid images in my head from the film, which stars Streep at Dineson (her real name is Karen Blixon) and Robert Redford. The book is a beautifully written memoir focused on Dineson's farm in Africa, and the movie captured that beauty and sense of nostalgia and loss perfectly. (Honestly? I may put this on my list to watch again soon.)
Sophie's Choice (1982), based on William Styron's Sophie's Choice (Bookshop.org | Libro.fm - Abridged Version)
This is a gut-wrenchingly tragic book about a Holocaust survivor named Sophie (Streep) who is now living in the American South. Kevin Kline plays her horrible boyfriend Nathan, and Peter MacNicol is Stingo, the narrator, who is in love with Sophie and shares her traumatic story. Streep is (not surprisingly) once again brilliant as Sophie.
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