Adapt This: Wally Lamb's 'I Know This Much Is True'
There’s nothing new under the sun — but somehow, these awesome properties have never been adapted for screens big or small. Psst, Hollywood: Let’s change that.
There are many great books that have never been adapted for the screen, and quite a few of them are better off because of it. Keeping that in mind, I’m hesitant to recommend such a great book undergo the adaptation process, but the more I think about how good an adaptation of Wally Lamb’s I Know This Much Is True could be, the more I know I have to put the thought out into the universe.
Today, there’s almost nothing a viewer loves more than a good twist. That’s the thing that gets people to tweet about a film or a television show. And that’s only one reason why I Know This Much Is True would make for a great big-screen drama.
To leave out a lot of details (and twists), I Know This Much Is True tells the story of Dominick and his twin brother, Thomas, who suffers from paranoid schizophrenia. After an incident, Thomas is put in a mental hospital. However, Dominick doesn’t believe its a healthy environment for his brother. Through the process of trying to help his brother, Dominick begins to look into his ancestors’ history and starts seeing a therapist to begin to analyze his own life, from losing his only child to SIDS to how he feels toward his adoptive father.
Things escalate when Dominick learns of sexual abuse at Thomas’ hospital and Dominick manages to get his brother released. From there, there are many more twists, including one involving Dominick’s girlfriend that will forever be burned into readers’ brains. I don’t want to give too much away — you should read the book — but here are the biggest factors as to why this would make a great film:
Complex characters: Dominick is a fascinating and very complicated protagonist. In spending his life trying to help his brother, Dominick never really faced his own demons. Now an adult trying to tackle everything at once, his journey is incredibly compelling, not to mention that the actor playing him would have so much to work with.
Realistic relationships: I Know This Much Is True presents many relationships. There’s Thomas and Dominick, there’s Dominick and his step-father, Dominick and his therapist, Dominick and his ex-wife, Dominick and his girlfriend, not to mention a few I won’t give away. There are so many layers to this story that watching it unfold would be mesmerizing.
Element of shock: As I mentioned before, this book holds multiple complicated twists, all of which would play out nicely on-screen.
Emotional impact: This is a very dark book, but it never gets so dark that it’s hard to believe. I’m not saying it would be an uplifting film, but I’m saying it would leave an impact on its audience. And with the right director, I think it could downright scar some people (in a Blue Valentine sort of way).
As odd as it might sound with the subject matter, this book is a joy to read, mainly because Lamb is an excellent author, but also because the story really resonates. It keeps things simple: It’s about life, tragedy, failure, relationships, and coping. It remains one of the most vivid books in my mind, which is why I can picture it perfectly on the big screen. And let me tell you, it looks good.
I Know This Much Is True