by Levy, Marc
Steven Spielberg has bought the film rights to Marc Levy's debut novel, If Only It Were True. He was so enthusiastic about the idea for the story that he handed over the cash ($2 million) before seeing the manuscript. And it is a great story. A young architect, Arthur, moves into his apartment and finds a girl in his closet. But Lauren Kline isn't an ordinary girl. She has been in a coma for six months after crashing her open top Triumph--her "heart is beating in one place" but her "spirit is alive somewhere else." And that somewhere else is with Arthur; he's the only one who can see, hear and touch her.
The book is unashamedly romantic, the couple fall in love, stroll through San Francisco, smooch on the sea shore and contemplate the true meaning of life and love. It's all about: "Recognising happiness when it's lying at your feet, having the will and the courage to reach down and take it in your arms, and to hold on to it." But Lauren's life support machine is about to be turned off and Arthur must save his invisible girl because "each second with you is worth more than any other second."
The dialogue is intense, soul bearing and perhaps slightly naive. This is a compelling story and the novel's tone allows for endless speculation about the style of the eventual film. It would make a fine screwball comedy, or a medical drama--ER goes Oprah. Spielberg could exploit the living dead angle: a zombie rom.com, a sort of Re-animating Baby. Perhaps it will star Meg Ryan and be wistful and wide-eyed. And surely there's only one possibility for the soundtrack: The Smiths' "Girlfriend in a Coma"? --James Barry
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