David Blackburn

Not for the faint hearted

Text settings

‘Atlas shrugged. And so did I.’ I’ve always wanted to write that, but the incomparable P.J. O’Rourke has got there first in this summary-cum-review of the new film of Ayn Rand’s magnum opus. By all accounts the book has been reverentially adapted to the screen, and O’Rourke warns that the ‘uninitiated will feel they’ve wandered without a guide into the midst of the elaborate and interminable rituals of some obscure exotic tribe.’

Rand’s exhaustive and exhausting book has long divided critics, a trait that seems not to have been inherited by Paul Johannson’s movie. With the predictable exception of the Atlas Society, critics are panning this film. The Hollywood Reporter describes it as ‘botched’ and the Boston Phoenix concludes that ‘not all books should be made into films and this is one of them’. O’Rourke joins the hunting party, writing:

‘The movie’s acting is borrowed from “Dallas,” although the absence of Larry Hagman’s skill at subtly underplaying villainous roles is to be regretted. Staging and action owe a debt to “Dynasty”—except, on “Dynasty,” there usually was action.’

Intuition suggests that this is an unlikely film for a family outing, but if O’Rourke hates to the heart of his gnarled libertarian soul then only Rand’s most devout followers need watch it – and, even then, need they watch all of it?

And the same applies to another forthcoming release: Summer and the City. This, for those who might possibly be interested, is the story of how Carrie met the other three birds in Sex and the City. It’s also the latest course of injections to ensure that Candace Bushnell’s pension fund doesn’t start to sag.

Bushnell has form in this department. Since the original book and TV series, she has penned the teenage diaries of Carrie Bradshaw. I’m told that the diaries are a preposterous romp through various rights of passage; and I fear that Adrian Mole and the delights of Ashby-de-la-Zouch would have been a sad disappointment to Miss Carrie.

Where or more pertinently when might this end? Bushnell says she’s looking forward ‘to writing more books for young adults’, but surely even the most ardent and unimaginative fan must be tired of young Carrie’s yen for Louboutins and lotharios? Now, a book where the ageing Bradshaw confronts her declining sexuality, I’d read that. And, on the evidence of her original columns, Bushnell could easily pull-off something more ambitious.