Willing Davidson knows his complaint isn't original. But he can't help asking in Slate, "Why does Hollywood take our favorite novels and turn them into crap?" In Richard Yates' Revolutionary Road, readers see their own hopes within those of his characters; in the movie, character replaces plot "and the result lands with a wet flop." This is typical: "There's so much plot to get in that there's no time to tell the story" (even if 2 hours feels interminably long enough).
But film doesn't have to be "the flashy, gelled-hair cousin to literature," Davidson discovered while watching Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters. The story is so complicated you'd expect a confusing mess. Instead, the director did the brilliant: He didn't respect the plot. "Perhaps it's the insecurity of Hollywood," writes Davidson. "Inflated by the borrowed prestige of books, producers and directors won't stray too far from the guide-ropes of the story."