Fans of “Normal People” were looking forward to the film adaptation of Sally Rooney’s first novel. Can he live up to the hype?
After the resounding success of Normal People, no one doubted that Irish writer Sally Rooney’s first novel, Conversations with Friends, was destined for the screen.
If viewers can be swept up in the vertigo of Connor and Marianne’s intoxicating relationship, then they’ll turn to Frances’ thorny bond with Nick, especially if you can promise the same dreamy aesthetic and enamored looks.
Starring Jemima Kirk, Joe Alwyn, Sasha Lane and newcomer Alison Oliver. Conversations with friends not as strong as Ordinary peoplenor does it have its predecessor’s gift for delving so deeply into its characters that it accomplishes the almost impossible task of transforming page into screen: the inside.
Comparisons aside – and at a very high level – Conversations with friends it’s a likable series with likable acting, but is it more than just a half-hearted character study featuring incredibly attractive actors and the feeling that it has something to say without actually saying it?
Not really. But depending on your mood, this may be more than enough.
Frances (Oliver) is studying at the University of Dublin, studying English and performing her poetry with her best friend and ex-lover Bobbie (Lane).
One night they meet Melissa (Kirke), a 30-year-old successful writer whose handsome house and even handsomer husband, actor Nick (Alvin), make them glamorous and desirable to young women.
The four soon become intertwined in each other’s lives, and for Frances, this means a quixotic romance with Nick. But this is not as clear-cut as adultery and betrayal – or not? Meanwhile, Bobby is drawn to Melissa.
Conversations with friends is a coming-of-age story that explores the many facets and textures of relationships, and the expectations we place on those in our lives.
Are we to judge Frances and Nick’s illicit connections? He justifies his choice to her in such a way that her complicity becomes acceptable to herself, and as the younger and inexperienced party, what is Frances’s leeway?
A show created by the same creative team as Ordinary people including Rooney, co-writer Alice Burch and director Lenny Abrahamson, doesn’t portray Frances and Nick as bad people, just flawed and complex, driven by desires and vulnerabilities.
The first half of the 12 episodes focuses more on Frances and Nick than Melissa and Bobby, but they still seem elusive, especially him. Oliver (a carbon copy of a young Anna Paquin) glances at her and wears Frances’ anxiety and sensitivity on his face, but the letter does little to reveal Nick’s inner life.
And you won’t learn much about Melissa or Bobby until you continue with the second half. The leisurely pace would be an understatement, even if it speeds up character development.
Conversations with friends it doesn’t have the depth of Rooney’s insightful writing, but each half-hour section seamlessly flows into the next with a few hallmarks of episodic narrative, lulling you into complacency.
‘Conversations with Friends’ Now Streaming on Amazon Prime Video