I am not going to try to be eloquent on why I like The Emperor’s Children by Claire Messud; needless to say, it manages a really tricky balance of very funny satire and real emotional devastation and grows in my estimation as I reread it, year by year. It also gets a little bit creepier when you’re closer to a Danielle than a Bootie. (Even if arguably you should not be a Bootie, but it is so easy to understand a Bootie. Philosophically, however, in life I am not going to be a Bootie anymore.)
Thank goodness that the film version by Noah Baumbach never got off the ground, and thank goodness Jonah Hill is getting too old to be Bootie (although I sort of imagine him as Bootie, a little). I couldn’t imagine him getting the cold harshness of upstate New York right, the way that it’s diametrically opposed to everything in New York City. I don’t feel like a lot of Baumbach’s films are sympathetic and empathetic to people, particularly the ones in his “fancy director” period, they’re simply sour.
Last I heard the guy who did Crazy Heart, the Jeff Bridges got an Oscar movie, may do it, and Rachel McAdams may be in it, but whether it happens, who knows. I wonder whether it could be a good movie - it would need the right tone of empathy and irony, following often silly people, but serious enough to make Bootie into a terrifying phoenix. It would be very tricky to get right, but if you did, it could be a classic (that will likely never be better than the book), which has to be irresistible.