‘Child-44’, the most acclaimed novel written by Tom Rob Smith, definitely kept me on tender hooks. Every single paragraph of this novel is neatly crafted to its perfection. The mystery, suspense and the “rush” in the climax was one hell of a job attempted by the author and definitely kept us all craving for more. I must also add that every novel gives you a scope to learn more about history and ‘Child 44’ keeps up with the promise of enlightening us about Stalin’s regime and also Post-Stalin’s regime. A slice of gulags and the treatment of people in these atrocious bunkers leaves the readers astounded.
I read this novel much before I got to know that it would be made into a movie and with a hope that I would be reviewing this movie, rather comparing both the book and the movie on the basis of the impact it leaves on the readers and the viewers. Since the movie was released much later, I would definitely talk more about it. no doubt that the movie is well made keeping in some of the elements intact, diplomacy in Russia during Stalinist regime, but it lacked one main aspect. The quality of characterisation.
The protagonist, Leo Demidov, as envisioned by the reader is completely tarnished in the movie. Leo’s character is quite intense, magnanimous and intriguing which was lacking in the the main actor who played his role. Leo quietly takes you to another word of his own in the book and Tom Rob Smith does a commendable job with the characterisation. Tom hardy, who played the role of Leo Demidov was trying too hard to maintain the intensity of the character. The murderer, whose role is quite pivotal and strong allows the readers and the viewers to assume that he is the right candidate to steal the show.
The film fails to stick to the story as some of the incidents were conveniently negated, which would have added more quality to the movie. The incident where Leo and Raisa ( Leo’s wife) meet his parents when they come down to Moscow in order to investigate the murders of the children, is completely absent in the movie. The main crux of this entire novel is how they escape from the train which was headed to a gulag is modified in the movie. The director limits himself from showing the viewers that Leo and Raisa prefer to jump off the train rather than putting them through the ordeal of convincing the passengers and pulling off the floor boards of the cabin and slipping down the tracks with the help of bloodied dead bodies to protect themselves from being scraped by the nuts and bolts of the train. This would have given a different light to the story which was conveniently dismissed by the director. He settles with making the characters jump off the train through the doors which was the most clichéd way that the director opts for. The murderer’s daughter also plays an important role in the text but is not present in the film as a character at all. The personal life of the murderer is quite important and significant. But the viewers are in no luck to witness this. The climax is also not so clear as the novel. The reason behind him killing so many children must have been given a lot of importance but it is not clearly known to the viewers. He killed the children , ripped their guts and fed them to his cat. He does that to make sure he becomes popular enough for his long lost brother to find him and stop him. Keeping in mind of various discrepancies, I would urge every individual who is looking for a thriller, to stop and “read” the novel rather than settling to be cheated.