Well, I finally saw it. The Da Vinci Code movie. Those of you who have been with this blog for a while will know my problems with Dan Brown’s book. Now normally you will not see me dis a book here, because, normally, I am looking out for myself and you don’t want to be caught ripping apart other peoples’ books. But, seeing that it’s Dan Brown and he’s now richer than God, I think I’m allowed a little slack.
To recap the issue: My first novel in my Medieval Noir series featured Templars and the Holy Grail. Now I had the decency in my Afterword to acknowledge this fictional connection and to point out the instances in literature when these tenuous connections began. I explained, in other words, what was fictional and what was not. But I had the misfortune to try to peddle this book when The Da Vinci Code hit the streets. Editor after editor rejected it, mostly on the grounds that they didn’t want a Da Vinci Code redo even though my plot had nothing in relation with the Da Vinci Code. I was burned. Fortunately, once I’ve finished one book I simply start working on the next, so I already had book two when my agent and I made the sad decision to shelve book one and move book two into the number one slot. Hence, Veil of Lies as the first Crispin Guest novel.
Okay. Now you’re up to speed on that. I read the book and found it...er...flawed. Not for religious reasons. That’s another issue. But simply for its faulty research and Dan Brown’s insistence that his research was great and his sources impeccable. Feh! When you are into history you take umbrage when someone plays fast and loose with it and then doesn’t have the cajones to own up to it. Well, it sold millions. He’d done something right. Whether it was the two page chapters so you didn’t notice all the character flaws, or the unrealistic chase, who knows? I was going to see the movie eventually, just not when it was in the theatres. No more money for Dan Brown’s pocket. But I saw it last night with my husband who had not read the book.
We were of the same opinion.
The movie seemed to point out all the flaws of the book in Cinerama and Technicolor. Flaws of plot, of characterizations, of character motivations, of simple police procedure...and history, of course. You can’t fault Tom Hanks for phoning in his performance because he was being true to the book, where his character was as cardboard as a George W. Bush presidency. From its strained urgency in the beginning to its exposition intermission of bad art history and bad medieval history in the middle, we were sent on a kiddy rollercoaster ride of absurd twists and turns with Clouseu-like cops who didn’t even bother to search a car trunk for some fugitives, to incoherent little blips of scenes with cardinals whom we don’t get where they came from, to the uninteresting heroine who should have been more educated than she appeared. Oh that's right. They needed more exposition, so she had to be stupid enough for people to explain it to her. Omniscient, she’s not. Guess she didn’t inherit from the smart side of the family.
Did I like anything about the movie? Yes. I liked the little “ghosts” that Ron Howard put in, the historical flashbacks. That was about it. And I liked the fact that it was a Netflix rental and cost me about 50 cents to rent. Forget Robert Langdon, people. Stick to Crispin Guest. At least he gets his history right.