Out Now: Stalking the Stalker

Movie poster for The Cry of the Owl starring Julia Styles and Paddy Considine
The 2009 adaptation of Patricia Highsmith’s Cry of the Owl

My essay ‘Stalking the Stalker: Jamie Thraves adapting Patricia Highsmith’s The Cry of the Owl‘ is out now in Film International. You can get the essay via your library or purchase from the journal. Thanks Matthew and the crew. Here’s an overview:

The 2009 adaptation of Patricia Highsmith’s The Cry of the Owl faces the double hurdle of responding both to the original novel and to Claude Chabrol’s 1987 film, which Greg Cwik has called, ‘classic Chabrol: slow, deliberate, gorgeously scored. It’s a film of noir trappings and minor chords’. Without a confident marketing presence, it did not make much of a splash upon the original release (straight to video in most markets), but is well worth investigating for in some ways it offers a much more faithful version of the novel.

Highsmith’s novel centres on the downbeat Robert Forester who, recovering from a painful divorce in New York City, moves to rural Pennsylvania and develops a voyeuristic obsession with Jenny Thierolf. As always, Highsmith chooses suggestive names: Robert hides himself in the woods as he gazes at Jenny. Her name (evoking Germanic words for animal and wolf) suggests that behind the placid exterior that soothes Forester’s fevered mind something more dangerous lurks. When she spots him one night, he is surprised that she invites him into the house. Here the troubles begin…

The original 1962 novel