Adaptations can be tricky. Whether films or television series, true stories or fictional tales, adapted from books or plays, they can be hit-and-miss. This month on Netflix, we’ll be treated to our fair share of adaptations — and we’ve chosen some of the most promising below.
Whether it’s a new James Norton-starring thriller, a series tasked with doing an epic series of novels justice or an adaptation of an adaptation of Pennsylvania’s incredible Fletcher Street Urban Riding Club, here are the best titles to add to your Netflix watchlist in April 2021…
Things Heard & Seen, April 30th
Did anyone see James Norton’s last horror film? No? Good. Because it was called Flatliners — and it was not good. Things Heard & Seen, thankfully, looks to be an improvement. Based upon a novel by Elizabeth Brundage, the film stars Norton and Amanda Seyfried as a couple who, upon moving away from Manhattan for a quieter life, begin to notice strange, sinister goings on in their new home. A springtime chiller.
This Is a Robbery: The World’s Biggest Art Heist, April 7th
If the usual Netflix true crime fare is a little grisly for your sensibilities, give this one a bash. Told over four episodes, the latest docuseries from the streaming platform recounts and explores the (unsolved) story of a pair of brazen thieves in 1990s Boston.
The men, as-yet unidentified, conned their way into the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum dressed as police officers, and stole $500 million worth of Rembrandt, Manet and Degas paintings. There’s still a $10 million reward on offer for information — so really pay attention and it might pay off. Literally.
Cast Away, April 1st
You should already have seen Cast Away. You probably have. But it’s a classic for a reason — and always worth a rewatch. You likely know what it’s about, so here are some fun facts instead of a synopsis: Job applications for FedEx went up by 30% after the film’s release; One of the three volleyballs used in the film sold at auction for $18,400; Tom Hanks’ impressive beard is completely and utterly real. Now get re-watching.
The Innocent, April 30th
After Harlan Coben dramas including The Stranger and Safe gripped Netflix, the American mystery writer has begun to produce shows for non-English audiences. If you haven’t watched last year’s The Woods, a twisty Polish thriller, you should. And, at the end of April, another tension-drenched drama arrives. The Innocent is a Spanish language production, and follows a man who tries to put an accidental killing behind him and start afresh. Things, predictably, don’t go to plan.
Concrete Cowboy, April 2nd
Based on the novel ‘Ghetto Cowboy’ by Greg Neri, this Idris Elba-starring modern-day Western fictionalises the urban African-American horse-riding culture in Philadelphia. It sounds like a culture-clashing mash-up of ideas and people — but watch the trailer and you’ll be so intrigued you’ll be counting down the days until April 2nd. Fascinating visuals, a strong supporting performance by Stranger Things’ Called McLaughlin and some very, very wide-brimmed hats? Count us in.
Stowaway, April 22nd
We’ll watch anything starring Toni Collette. From Hereditary to Knives Out to Unbelievable, the actor is a character chameleon who gets it right almost every time. In this film, she plays alongside Anna Kendrick and Daniel Dae Kim as the commander of a Mars-bound ship. The team, mid-flight, discovers the titular stowaway in the face of already-dwindling resources — and has to make a terrible decision.
Chiefly, our interest stems largely from the choice of director with this one. Calling the shots was Brazilian musician Joe Penna, who has maintained the YouTube channel MysteryGuitarMan since 2006. An odd choice, definitely. A masterstroke? Perhaps.
Night in Paradise, April 9th
Had you not been aware of South Korean cinema before last year, Parasite surely awakened you to the country’s colossally creative filmmaking culture. This neo-noir, directed by Park Hoon-jung, sees a criminal try to abandon his long-loyal gang. After seeing his family slain for his sins, he escapes to Jeju Island — South Korea’s only self-governing province and site of much volcanic activity — to forge a new life.
Collateral, April 1st
Why does nobody talk about Collateral? Starring Tom Cruise, Jamie Foxx, Mark Ruffalo and Javier Bardem, Michael Mann’s 2004 thriller is a seriously good film — and one of our favourite of the past two decades. Dripping with the same neo-noir neon as Night in Paradise above, the film sees Foxx’s taxi driver coerced into chauffeuring Cruise’s silver-fox assassin around Los Angeles to carry out a number of high-profile hits. Ruffalo doggedly pursues as a good detective with a bad goatee.
Shadow and Bone, April 23rd
You’ll love or hate Shadow and Bone. Cut from the same fantastical cloth as Game of Thrones and The Witcher, this adaptation of Leigh Bardugo’s best-selling book series follows a lowly soldier and orphan named Alina — who has unleashed an extraordinary power that could be the key to setting her oppressed country free. Expect magical armies, charismatic criminals and — it wouldn’t be a fantasy series without them — dragons.
Sleepers, April 1st
And, for our final April recommendation we’re throwing it back, once more, to the 1990s. Sleepers was something of a sleeper itself — which is odd, considering its cast list packs the collective punch of De Niro, Dustin Hoffman, Brad Pitt and Kevin Bacon. It’s a tough watch, dealing with themes of abuse, racism, murder and alcoholism. But with the director of Rain Man and Good Morning, Vietnam at the helm, and John Williams on board to soundtrack the drama, the story is told with tact.
Looking a little further ahead? These are the films we’re watching out for this year…
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