"About a Boy" deals with a lot of issues. Discuss."
Nick Hornby's novel "About a Boy" and its adaptation to the screen both exhibit the growth of Will and Marcus through the use of characterization, voice and narrative structure. The focal point of this light hearted story is on shared human relationships, of the desperate needs of children for nurturing relationships in an increasingly, alienating, cynical world, and of the needs for shared relationships in a world dominated by the values of individualism, image and materialism. It centers on the problems of growing up, of children who lose their innocence in dysfunctional families, and of adults who are unable to accept adult ...view middle of the document...
He had spent more than three hundred pounds on a jacket (five points) (Â…) he had both grown a goatee (five points and shaved it off again (five points). (Â…) He was, according to the questionnaire, sub-zero! He was dry ice! He was Frosty the Snowman! He would die of hypothermia!" Will's point of view is used by a limited omniscient narrator, quite similar to the narrator's role in chapter one. Hornby introduces Will to us as a representation of cultural depthlessness and a celebration of superficiality. The narrative voice allows us to sense Will's value system. He was "too young, too old, too groovy, too stupid, too smartÂ…" to be a parent. Hornby allows us to sense his amorality but to remain affectionate towards him: "he was acting, yes, but in the noblest sense of the word. He was Robert De Niro."
Consequently, the structure is determined that at the beginning of the book, two parallel worlds, Marcus's and Will's, are described. They both are unable to express where they connect to their representative worlds. Almost inevitably, the two characters and their worlds collide.
The clash of the worlds forces the reader to see the same events and characters from two points of view. Both points of view play an important part in the book: Will is confused by Marcus's apparent lack of irony and his literal-mindedness, while Marcus develops a more relaxed and worldly view of the world, learning from Will.
Comparatively in the novel, Will Freeman, a useless, self-centred 38-year-old, explains that he needs no one, seeing himself as a self-sufficient island (the European playground of Ibiza, specifically). This role is played by the charismatic Hugh Grant.
In order to adapt the book to film and to successfully sell it to the public as a "Hugh Grant Film" the dual third-person narrative would have to be adjusted into first-person via Grant's character. However, Grant's narration opens the film, but then it switches into a joint narrative with Marcus, much like Hornby's original. Hornby's purpose is to ironically juxtapose the moral confusions of both a man and a boy. The Weitz's film seeks to explore the moral re-birth of Will by using Marcus's confusions as a point of reference not a central or equal focus. The movie focuses on Will as opposed to the book which focus's on both Marcus and Will, centralising Marcus's confusion. They live ironically parallel lives.
As Will, Hugh Grant plays a derivative of his usual smarmy charmer, but this beast is something different altogether. He describes getting his hair "carefully dishevelled, and sums himself up best: "No...I really am this shallow." Playing the Hornby male requires a lot of confused eyes, defensive posturing, and befuddled crinkling of the forehead, and Grant delivers the discombobulation effectively.
As good as Hornby's book is the Weitz Brothers and Peter Hedges' screenplay creates threads and images that seem like they should come from the book, but are actually...