Yvonne deSousa

I absolutely loved this movie and didn't even know it was based on a book. Will the fact that I've seen and loved the movie spoil the book for me? Is it worth checking out if already know the movie version of the story?

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Barbara Ruth I also tracked down the book after having loved the movie. I may love them equally. Yes, the book is slightly different, and more detailed in that you get deeper into the heads of the characters and some of the motivations that aren't quite as clear from watching the film become clearer when you read the background (why the neighbors are willing to take one child but not the other for instance). I can't recommend the book enough.
Sue I learned that the movie was based on a book and I tracked down a copy. I liked the movie but I loved the book so much better. The story was slightly different...two brothers instead of a little sister and a brother. But I was drawn into the vivid descriptions of the winter landscape and in-your-face moral code necessary to survive in this "Hatfield and McCoy" type environment...paraphrasing one of the characters....there's just two ways to get yourself kilt; snitching and stealing. Wonderful book. Recommend highly if you liked the movie!
AJ R You should always, always read the book version. It will usually always give more detail that enhaces the plot/characters more than a movie.
Charismatic Books and film are different media, and books are the source for a majority of films. (It is a rare film anymore that has a totally original script not based on a novel, play or comic book.)

In this case, both the film AND source novel are very good and I think, compliment each other. As Barbara says below, the novel is obviously more detailed and explains a lot of backstory -- things I really didn't pick up on in the movie.

However, a film has an advantage in being visual -- setting a mood -- establishing a place and time -- that a novel doesn't quite do as well (or maybe I should say "it does it, but with words vs. images and we humans are very visually oriented"). For example: the film succeed a lot because of a fine performance from a young Jennifer Lawrence... her beauty, the way her emotions read on her face. The protagonist in the novel isn't described much and certainly not as a classic beauty. This affects what we think about her and how we identify with her.

The things the novel does better -- again, backstory. I didn't pick up at all in the film that the Dolly family and others in the region were so isolated because of their fairly bizarre religious beliefs. The film doesn't get into the shocking sexual abuse that Ree endures, being molested by uncles and cousins from a very young age and how that would have formed her personality.

Also my recollection is that when I saw the film (which indeed I saw first), I believed it was set in Appalachia -- West Virginia, probably -- but in fact it is set in a very remote part of Missouri -- not the same culture at all.
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