Friday, August 1, 2014
Checking back into The Hotel New Hampshire
I remember that the moment I turned 16 I wanted a job. On that birthday, I headed into the city and ended up with a job cleaning up late at night for a department store. If I had a drive, it was about 20 minutes from my home to work, but if not, I had to take the bus, two of them actually. 20 minutes by car, turned into almost an hour and a half by bus. This gave me lots of time to read.
One of the first novels I remember reading on my way to, and from work was John Irving's The Hotel New Hampshire. When I was reading the book, I had no idea it had been a movie, having come and gone quickly from the theatres years earlier. I did know, I took the book, along with a few others, the previous summer when my family had rented a cottage for a week. The cottage was full of books and I guess the idea was to leave the ones you brought and take a few when you left. I never left any, but I did leave with a grocery bag full of novels.
I saw the movie years later and my feelings about it were very similar to those I had when reading. I loved it, well most of it. I loved the Berry family that Irving introduced us to, strong willed Frannie, her body building brother John and gay brother Frank. I loved her little sister Lily and baby Brother Egg (played by a very young Seth Green). I loved the relationship between the siblings and how they fought and stuck up for each other both.
My interest in the movie, as with the book, dwindled quite a bit once the family began to separate and the eventual move to Europe. I am sure the Europe parts of the story were important to Irving, but to me the heart of the family, and the book, remained in that Hotel in New Hampshire.
Jodie Foster was incredible, as she was in most things she did in the 80's and 90's. Paul McCrane was equally amazing, such a departure for the role that gave him his biggest dose of fame on ER. Rob Lowe was at his most beautiful, 19, horny and usually without a shirt. The cast was all stellar rounded out by Beau Bridges, Lisa Dudas, Wilfred Brimley and Matthew Modine.
I remember getting quite excited reading the sections which covered John's (Lowe) loss of virginity to the hotels resident prostitute. The scene in movie was good, but not as enjoyable as it played out on the page. The movie has a few male nude scenes, but I debated how much to capture as they are all rooted in violence. Frank being assaulted at school, male extra's raping Foster's Frannie and an assault and almost rape of Chip (Modine).
I recently re-watched the movie, stopping as I usually do once the family left the States. Might be time to re-visit the novel again, and stick to it til the end.
Frank (Paul McCrane) is assaulted after school.
Lowe with Anita Morris