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Tuesday, March 29, 2011

When Going Young Goes to Far

Disney has cast Jennifer Garner to play Miss Marple in a series of films. This news seems so ridiculous that I can’t even be outraged. Befuddlement comes closer to capturing my reaction. This may not be the greatest compliment to Agatha Christie’s skills as a novelist, but the whole point of Miss Marple’s character is that she’s old. She’s an unassuming old village spinster, whose lifelong examination of human behavior has given her spectacular insight.

Whatever these Garner-led Marple films will be, they cannot by definition be true to the original source. It’s hard to imagine a big corporation making a faithful Marple adaptation, due to the lack of action sequences or love scenes involved. The minute young Miss Marple shoots a gun or kisses a man, any connection to the novels flies right out the window.

II guess the weird thing to so many people is this: aren’t there enough roles out there for young, sexy, American (an underrated consideration in my outrage, Jane Marple should be played by a Brit) actresses? Miss Marple was written specifically to be old because we live in a world that heartlessly devalues and disrespects the elderly, and Hollywood has proved yet again that it does the same. There have to be numerous older actresses who could do wonders with the role of Miss Marple, but we get Garner instead.

You want to put Jennifer Garner in a series of mystery movies? Great, I can get on board with that. But to cynically glom onto the cache of the Marple brand while simultaneously distancing your product from everything that made the original special? I can’t support that.

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