Replay is a brilliant 1987 science fiction novel by Ken Grimwood, a novel that is the spiritual precursor to the dark elements of the film Groundhog Day. The book begins with the protagonist having a heart attack and then waking up when he was eighteen, with all the memories of the next twenty five years intact. It’s got that perfect mixture of hope at being able to live life differently, and existential dread at reliving all the things that never change. And then when the moment of his death approaches he once again has a heart attack and once again wakes up younger, but this time a little bit later. And so he goes, living life after life, the length of the replays diminishing like a count down.
Grimwood died in 2003, reportedly while working on a sequel to Replay, and the movie rights have bummed around for a few years, but rumor has it that there’s a new script in play by Jason Smilovic (who has previously only written Lucky Number Slevin for the big screen along with a smattering of producer and writer credits for “Bionic Woman,” “Kidnapped,” “Karen Sisco,” and “My Own Worst Enemy”). Smilovic rewrote a script by Richard LaGravenese due to the interest of Ben Affleck in directing the film.
I’m singling it out mostly because it’s an example of a perfect sort of novel for film adaptation. There are no effects to screw up, the science fiction is strictly internalized, so there are no things that exist in your head that get ruined when visualized onto screen. The story is all character, but it’s about his interplay with the outside world so the adaptation doesn’t suffer as with stories that lose all meaning when taken out of the protagonist’s head.