I think I read in The New Yorker piece ‘MuggleMarch’ that there was no way Casual Vacancy would be made into a movie. The thinking, I suppose, is that movie-goers are not ready for Obbo’s rape of Krystall, the Dursley-Mollinsons (and, worse, the Prices) on screen for the whole show, and the ugliness of Comprehensive meanness and The Fields. I haven’t read any reviews or discussion since my first reading late Saturday but I’m guessing that there isn’t a feverish speculation in Jo’s Empire of Fans about whether Milley Cyrus will play Krystall Weedon or which Bollywood god and goddess will play the beautiful Doctors Jawanda.
I get that. I think one of the hardest bits of a very challenging read — and one that would be at least as difficult to experience on screen — is that the story principals are Krystall Weedon, not a charm school grad, and the twins of sorts, Andrew Price and Stuart Wall. As touched on thread #5, they are a Uroboros at story’s start who are so close that they share an identity. Though Stuart (‘Fats’) is the Leopold to Andrew’s relatively pathetic Loeb, it is the latter who breaks out from their relationship, first (and importantly) in his secret love for Gaia Bowden and then in his decision to save his family by posting the Ghost revelation about his father on the Pagford website.
That plays out as Andrew hopes at first, when his dad withdraws his candidacy. When Simon loses his job, however, and Andrew/Stuart learn the Prices have to leave town for dad’s possible job in Reading, Stuart feels cut adrift. His best friend from his earliest memories is no longer his surest companion. He plays the cool dude and acts indifferent to Andrew thereafter largely in denial of how this separation pains him. Andrew pursues Gaia and Stuart meets with Krystall as compensatory consolation.
But their unity is not yet broken. Stuart makes what seems an ex machina appearance in the kitchen at the Mollinson Birthday and Electoral Victory Party and, incredibly, tries to make love to the drunken Gaia, his best friend’s girl. After the death of Robby in the River Orr, Andrew finds and saves (?) his best friend, who hides in their most secret sanctuary, the Cave. Rising from that death of sorts, Stuart confesses that he was the Ghost of Barry Fairbrother, the author of all the online messages, to include, of course, the two written by Andrew about Simon and about Howard and Maureen (which last no one but Howard and Shirley seem to have read).
What’s at play here? Here’s an idea for your comment and correction.
Andrew and Stuart are something of a soul diptych as in Jekyll and Hyde. Just as Stevenson’s character Hyde was Jekyll without conscience, so Stuart only becomes bestial when unlinked from Andrew in his private decision to fight back against his father (and protect their family) with his intelligence, not Fats’, and to love the goddess from afar instead of whoring. Stuart unleashed without the relatively grounded Andrew has no sense of measure than his own ratiocinations and conceptions of “authenticity,” becoming a nightmare, even predatory Holden Caulfield.
The return of Fats to Andrew at the party and his attack on Gaia shows his dependence and loss. His grief consequent to Krystall and Robby’s deaths mark his remorse-heavy birth of conscience, which is so real as to include the sins of his friend and better-half Andrew. Confessing that he did it, of course, makes Andrew’s life much worse because Simon believes Stuart’s confession — and attacks his own son for the boy’s part in the cyber attack.
If I’m right in this, I think we have at least one good reason for why many folks could not get into this novel. the characters with whom we are meant to identify — Andrew and Stuart — all their actions are easy to understand but they’re a real stretch for inspiring sympathy, not to mention ‘identification’ and ‘elision.’
Your thoughts please on the Andrew Price and Stuart Wall relationship — and which actors you think should play their parts in the Casual Vacancy movie that will never be made.