This week, we look at two wildly different relationship dramas based on popular novels that are currently or soon to be available for streaming.
Available on streaming services
"Chemical Hearts": "Riverdale" ingenue Lili Reinhart stars as Grace, a teenager with a hidden past who transfers to a new school during her senior year of high school. Henry (Austin Abrams, "Euphoria") is gunning to become editor of the school newspaper and is initially less than enthused that she is named to be his co-editor, but as they get to know each other an initial rivalry turns to love. As these things go, this book adaptation by Richard Tanne ("Southside With You") looks to be a fairly generic teen romance on the surface, but it quickly sheds its skin into something moodier and more mysterious while examining themes of grief and disability through impossibly beautiful, hormonally charged youth. Astutely photographed and backed by a stunningly accurate 2009-era playlist of Beach House, the xx and Perfume Genius, this has appeal beyond your typical young adult fare. (Amazon Prime, 4K Ultra HD available)
"I'm Thinking of Ending Things": The twisted mind of Charlie Kaufman has given us some of the most wildly original films of the last two decades. From his screenwriting breakthrough of 1999's "Being John Malkovich" all the way to him directing the stop-motion puppetry of his 2015 feature "Anomalisa," the only thing to expect from his work is the unexpected. This brings us to his latest, which is based on Iain Reid's 2016 novel of the same name. Credited only as Young Woman (but also referred to by a few other names, including Lisa), the sensationally talented Jessie Buckley ("Wild Rose") begins the story on a road trip with her boyfriend Jake (Jesse Plemons, "Friday Night Lights"). They are driving through an increasingly strengthening snowstorm to meet his parents (played by Toni Collette and David Thewlis). They have only been a couple for 6 or 7 weeks and, in her head, she is trying to convince herself to end their relationship. But now she is in a situation that she probably would rather not be in because she didn't say no or follow her instincts fast enough. That, as a scenario, is highly relatable, but very little else about the film will be for most viewers. The consistent themes of broken relationships, the use of inner monologues and the free-falling nature of time in Kaufman's work are explored more esoterically than ever before, but in a far more challenging manner. While I loved the unrelenting nature of all four of the main performances, making it all the way to the end credits felt like a chore. (Netflix, 4K Ultra HD available, coming Sept. 4)