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The Other Half of Love: The Book, the Movie, the Marketing

We are used to finding books in the market that turn into movies after a while. Sometimes, with the advent of Netflix and all the new channels that have their own productions, times get shorter, and it happens that after a few days the book moves from the library to the TV. In case The other half of love By Susan Swan, posted by SEM, the tour was a bit more complicated. This title may sound familiar to some, especially to those who were teenagers when the show was in fashion OC, But also for their brothers, and above all for the slightly older sisters: in 2002, in fact, the homonymous film was released in Italy which, perhaps due to the lukewarm reaction of critics, did not particularly leave its mark (in America instead it was released the previous year for the Sundance Film Festival, and had some success). Since then, the movie has gone off the radar and hasn’t been shown on a TV channel. Until 2006, the year Italia 1 decided to re-release it, airing it for the first time on television. Why this choice? What happened?

At that time, teenagers watched OC, A TV series that wouldn’t have been tarnished on Netflix and told of the adventures of a group of rich boys in California; One of the main characters, Marisa, played by Mischa Barton, had for some time a lesbian relationship with a bartender (played by Olivia Wilde, who would become famous for acting in Dr. House). Thus, on February 8, 2006, the episode of the first kiss will be broadcast between Monday and February 14. With timing Transparent, Italy 1 also broadcasts in the late evening The other half of loveMisha Barton witnesses the relationship between two schoolmates with mixed feelings.

Because the movie based on Susan Swan’s book is all about it: It’s a teenage love story between two girls, an intense story that immerses you in that period of life when following the heart is everything, you live in a separate world. It is not required to give explanations, or to justify oneself with those who do not understand, and one can take feelings to their severe consequences. In this article we do not want to criticize the film, which is really valuable for some of the directorial choices and for the soundtrack, and which among its advantages Bringing important issues to the surface, defining love as something that transcends everything, including sex and sexual tastes (Homosexuality is presented as something of a contingency: “I’m not a lesbian—one of the three protagonists would say—I’m Polly who loves Tori”). The point is, we’re talking frankly about a teen movie: the original title is lost and deliriousA state of absurd loneliness, mixed with the desire to feel a part of something greater, is highlighted, while exiles hope for the self-destructive hurricane. It’s all so lyrical, there’s no room for jokes and sarcasm: every playful part of the students’ lives is threatened by that hurricane that marks the end.

The book is very different. Thirty years after its release, it was also published in Italy (by SEM in 2022) and readers can finally discover that it has nothing or nothing to do with the film, however, it retains the title. The other half of loveHowever, it was not the original title chosen by Swan (it was Bath wives, in honor of the short story by Geoffrey Chaucer) and on the cover, not surprisingly, there is a scene from the film, to be precise near a kiss between Polly and Tori. This choice is a bit trivial, especially in light of the contents. In the introduction (don’t read it before the book, there are a lot of spoilers) the writer tries, with little success, to convince the readers that she is happy that the meaning of the book has changed like the sock in the movie, because times change, it is necessary to get close to different people, and the film is a product of artists’ sensitivity others and so on. The writer admits that she was only puzzled by the fact that the movie was set in the present day (more or less, we’re talking about the 2000s anyway), even if historical context is an important point in the original work (Hero The novel) writes emotional letters to President Kennedy, who sees him as a father taking his place. The Dallas assassination also plays an important role in history and a very important part is the feminist claims that would have created a lot of space soon after.) The truth is that The change of location is one of the least violent parts of the script: It’s very hard to fathom how a novel that begins with a very bloody news story can be turned into a teenage love movie, but that’s it.

In fact, Swan was inspired by the true story of a 17-year-old lesbian: We couldn’t be more precise to avoid spoilers at the end (again: don’t read the preface to the book), but we’re just saying that it would have adapted more into a horror movie. And it’s not just the ending that conflicts with the lyrical one in the movie. The book’s themes go beyond love, acceptance, and the courage to be yourself. There is talk of the condition of women in those years, and every page is haunted by a sense of injustice that affects all characters, even those most framed in the system. Since a woman can’t be paid as much as a man for doing the same job (the boarding school principal reveals to her lover that she was convinced the figure they promised her was a semester, not an entire year), she would always make an “enormous effort to live without a man by his side and wouldn’t be able to On aspiring to what kind of power (Mary will say “Bath’s girls’ college was just a fief in a men’s kingdom”).

This is also the reason why Paulie disguises himself as a man, and that is why Mouse is dragged into what kind of frenzy, at the trial stage, he does the same: he steals, with all the malice of the case. , that strength which men have, that security which they can wave before all for a vested right which does not offer any particular advantage upstream.


I wanted something bigger than a penis. I wanted what my hero, President Kennedy, had: courage, personal style, an action-packed life, and intellect.

Susan Swan

In this book, problems such as sexism and gender dysphoria were combined into an astonishing balance, leaving everything unclear, because not even the hero who tells the story was able to fully comprehend them.
Again, homosexuality is not a very important part of the equation (it’s not even clear if Tori, a marginal character in the book, realizes that her boyfriend is actually a woman) and that It is one of the few things that books and films have in common, so much so that one wonders why it was decided to call it, in translation, the same way..
In general, both works can be appreciated, albeit probably from two different audiences. It is better not to go ahead with the editorial, cinematic and ultimately commercial options.

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