If Castaway was not romantic enough for you (and, really, how could it be? Tom Hanks never really loved that volleyball) and Lifetime’s take on The Blue Lagoon is too been-there, done-that for your tastes, MGM and Temple Hill Productions just might have something to rattle your palm tree. The studio has optioned the rights to Tracey Garvis Graves’ “On the Island,” a desert island-set romance with a big twist. Instead of just tossing a pair of mismatched lovers into the sea, Garvis Graves has upped her characters’ differences by age (older woman, younger man) and also thrown in a medical complication (one of them is recovering from cancer) to make the drama even more, well, dramatic.
The book centers on Anna Emerson, a thirty-one-year-old English teacher who signs up to tutor T.J. Callahan, a sixteen-year-old recovering from cancer at his family’s vacation home in the Maldives. On the way to the island, the pair crash-land into the Indian Ocean and find themselves stranded on an island. The book’s synopsis describes the rest of their journey as such: “Anna and T.J. just want to survive and they must work together to obtain water, food, fire, and shelter. Their basic needs might be met but as the days turn to weeks, and then months, the castaways encounter plenty of other obstacles, including violent tropical storms, the many dangers lurking in the sea, and the possibility that T.J.’s cancer could return. As T.J. celebrates yet another birthday on the island, Anna begins to wonder if the biggest challenge of all might be living with a boy who is gradually becoming a man.” Variety also reports that their “strong relationship [is] tested years later when they’re rescued,” so Anna and T.J. do eventually get off the island, which puts a nice little twist on things.
A little digging around reveals that most of the book’s readers 1) really enjoyed the book and 2) feel as if Anna and T.J.’s eventual romantic relationship develops in such a way that it’s not “creepy” or “weird.” In fact, most reviews for the book on GoodReads echo that sentiment consistently. Also? Get ready for a lot of island time, as T.J. and Anna appear to be stuck there for at least two years. You can read some of the first few pages of “On the Island” over at Amazon; while Garvis Graves’ writing style leaves much to be desired (she seems especially interested in parsing spoken words with twitchy actions), it does sound as if the author has developed a compelling plot for her book, one that could translate quite well to the screen.
As Cinema Blend points out, much of the film will depend on its stars and director. There’s a real opportunity here for something great, but On the Island could also end up being a cheap little romance that doesn’t hold much water. However, the best-seller has a number of dedicated fans, and with Temple Hill having been through Twilight (the production company is currently negotiating with MGM to produce the film), they’ll at least understand the need to please fans with casting and crew choices.
Garvis Graves took to her own website on May 4 to air her personal choices for the stars – get this, she thinks Taylor Kitsch would be good for T.J. and Anne Hathaway would make a stunning Anna. Those are…interesting picks. It sounds like the film would likely benefit from going even younger for T.J., but we’ll just have to wait and see.