Book vs Movie: Less Than Zero

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“I don’t like driving down Wilshire during lunch hour. There always seem to be too many cars and old people and maids waiting for buses and I end up looking away and smoking too much and turning the radio up to full volume. Right now, nothing is moving even though the lights are green. As I wait in the car, I look at the people in the cars next to mine. Whenever I’m on Wilshire or Sunset during lunch hour I try to make eye contact with the driver of the car next to mine, stuck in traffic. When this doesn’t happen, and it usually doesn’t, I put my sunglasses back on and slowly move the car forward. As I pull onto Sunset I pass the billboard I saw this morning that read “Disappear Here” and I look away and kind of try to get it out of my mind.”

I read Less Than Zero by Bret Easton Ellis right before visiting LA last month.
I didn’t love it.
There were a few passages that I really liked (see above), but on the whole I thought it was a little boring. That being said, Ellis is a great writer. The fact that I read all the way to the end speaks volumes of his talent, especially considering he was only 19 when he wrote it.

I also watched the movie even though I’d heard Ellis didn’t really care for it.
I actually think I hated the movie a little.
Well, I didn’t hate the entire thing. I liked the opening montage to The Bangles version of “Hazy Shade of Winter”.  I liked Robert Downey Jr. and James Spader. Andrew McCarthy, however, pulled off a more believable performance in Weekend at Bernie’s.

But the movie didn’t have the benefit of Ellis’ writing to get it through the less interesting scenes, so you’re really just watching a bunch of spoiled rich kids in LA messing up their lives because they had nothing better to do.
The book was dark, the movie was neon.
The only thing the movie had going for it was a great soundtrack, which had everything to do with the fact that Rick Rubin was the music supervisor. Who knew?

I’m still a big Bret Easton Ellis fan and I might read Imperial Bedrooms, the sequel to Less Than Zero that takes place 25 years after the original story. Or maybe I’ll just reread American Psycho and never sleep again.

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