5 Romance Novels That Deserve the Baz Luhrmann Treatment
I have been a diehard Baz Luhrmann fan, since the summer I saw "Moulin Rouge!" in the movie theater three weekends in a row. Even though my friends and colleagues scoffed when the director announced he would be filtering F. Scott Fitzgerald's "The Great Gatsby" through his glitzy lens, with each trailer I got more and more psyched. How can you reject an adaptation done up in this art-deco gold-and-silver motif, with Gatsby holding court amidst half-naked flapper girls but unraveling in a shocking sequence whose pace is set by whirring fans? Can you really say no to a Jazz Age-era story whose soundtrack features Florence and the Machine and Beyoncé?
Luhrmann may be an acquired taste, but he brings a certain je ne sais quoi to adaptations. If he wants to adapt another love story--because it's always about love with him--it should be viewed as the highest of compliments. To that end, here are five romance novels we would love to see get the Aussie's absurd, frenetic spin and signature markers.
Luhrmann trait: Roller-coaster plot changes
Perfect for: "Paradise" by Judith McNaught
Luhrmann's dramatic cuts between dark drama and cartoonish sequences would only play up the dichotomy of McNaught's media drama. How better to capture the glare of the spotlight on the doomed marriage of Matthew Farrell and Meredith Bancroft, and their bittersweet business reunion years later? The corporate intrigue brings the kinds of do-or-die stakes that Luhrmann delights in, yet it's still his go-to story of two worlds colliding.
Luhrmann trait: Romps through history
Perfect for: "Honor's Splendour" by Julie Garwood
One of Luhrmann's greatest talents is grounding the audience in a specific time period, from 1940s Oz to 1899 Paris to New York City in the roaring '20s. His stories thrive upon intrigue like what transpired in English court feuds that thrust Garwood's heroine Lady Madelyne into imprisonment under Baron Duncan of Wexton. Luhrmann's movies deconstruct female characters (prostitutes, wives, daughters) so that they're not just pawns in men's games. You can practically see his recognizable quick-cut shots darting back and forth between courts, with Madelyne the only grounded figure in between.
Luhrmann trait: Acid trip-like sequences
Perfect for: "Bitten" by Kelley Armstrong
It's sort of incredible to realize that, for all of the trippy sequences he drops into his movies, Luhrmann has never actually tackled the supernatural. Armstrong's werewolf tale matches the director's penchant for the sensual. Just imagine the soundtrack he would set to the motif of blood (Robyn doing a cover of "Hungry Like the Wolf," perhaps?) and Elena's constant struggle against her weekly change (Lady Gaga springs to mind). This woman fighting the call of the feral wolf pack needs to be surrounded by ladies who are just as resilient.
Luhrmann trait: Scene-stealing supporting characters
Perfect for: "Vision in White" by Nora Roberts
Roberts and Baz Luhrmann--we can't think of a collaboration that needs to happen more than this one. And with a bridal theme! Imagine what a challenge it would be to strip down Luhrmann's usually gaudy, glitzy costumes into the simplest of color palettes while still packing a punch. In every film so far, Luhrmann's supporting characters provide the essential blend of pathos and laugh-out-loud comedy relief. I would love to see how he handles Mac's three childhood best friends and support system.
Luhrmann trait: Camp, and lots of it
Perfect for: "Fifty Shades of Grey" by E L James
And why not! The only way to adapt James's erotic novel and satisfy all audiences is to infuse it with the appropriate amount of camp. Christian wielding his grey necktie and riding crop? Anastasia vamping in pigtails and the baby-blue lingerie he picked out for her? José's lurking seduction of Ana? The producers would have so much fun turning each of these unforgettable moments into their own, ahem, touch points. Not to mention the naughty parts: No matter the setting or source material, Luhrmann's sex scenes always feel seamless and organic. They could even repurpose a lesser-known song from "Moulin Rouge!"--"Meet Me in the Red Room."