Starving Hailee Steinfeld & Grey Feat. Zedd
2 October 2017, 12:51
Why do so many great directors risk tainting an otherwise flawless career by venturing into the young adult genre?
The question should be put to director Todd Haynes, whose latest film Wonderstruck focuses on the story of two deaf children looking for their lost parents.
The film is set to open at the London Film Festival later this week, and it has been tipped as a strong Oscar contender after Haynes' 2015 masterpiece Carol failed to take any gongs.
Set in two different historical periods in New York, Wonderstruck pairs two young actors alongside names such as Julianne Moore and Michelle Williams.
The film is adapted from an illustrated novel by Brian Selznick, the same author who penned The Invention Of Hugo Cabret - the young adult (YA) novel that nearly ruined Martin Scorsese's impeccable body of work.
Scorsese's 2011 film Hugo was a success at the Oscars, getting 11 nods including best picture, but it still felt like an overly nostalgic waste of the director's talents.
Like every other YA film, it tried to aim at both an audience too young to appreciate it and too old to be watching it.
But Scorsese and Haynes aren't alone.
In 2010, the man who was once hailed as the modern Alfred Hitchcock lost credibility trying to adapt The Last Airbender - a film based on a YA cartoon.
One could argue M Night Shyamalan never really recovered from its failure, neither did Jean-Pierre Jeunet after his insufferable The Young And Prodigious TS Pivet. And I fear Haynes may not either.
Criticised since it first premiered at the Cannes film festival for its "gooeyness", Wonderstruck is not only the director's most mainstream film - it is also his worst.
From its terrible, horrible, no good, very bad script, to the fact that it blatantly capitalises on the children's inability to hear and speak to bring back the old magic of silent film (yawn!), it just feels like a film too boring for children or adults.
"It is a kids' movie," Haynes explained when his film opened in Cannes earlier this year.
"What I always felt, and the reason I wanted to do it, was that it is an incredibly rich and unique gift for kids."
This is classic misjudgement - most kids won't be interested in this film. It is too slow-paced, too complicated and filled with yearning of things that children today have no memory of or interest in.
There is nothing duller than complacent nostalgia, and every accomplished director who seeks to return to his childhood years by adapting juvenile fiction risks making something aimed just at himself.
:: Wonderstruck opens at the London Film Festival on Thursday 5 October
(c) Sky News 2017: Wonderstruck: When great film-makers do it for the kids