Veronika Decides to Die (2009)

Veronika Decides to Die is Emily Young‘s adaptation of Paulo Coelho‘s book, starring Sarah Michelle Gellar, Jonathan Tucker*, Erika Christensen**, David Thewlis and Melissa Leo.

Veronika (Sarah Michelle Gellar) seemingly has it all: good job, nice apartment, she’s pretty and bright. Nevertheless, she decides to kill herself and swallows pills. But she fails and comes to in a mental hospital where she gets the news that her suicide attempt has damaged her heart so much that she could drop dead any day now. Veronika, at first just trying to kill herself faster than her heart can, slowly connects with the other patients, especially with Edward (Jonathan Tucker).

The movie has many faults and the gravest is being based on a Coelho novel. Though they do clean the mess up a little bit, it’s not enough. And so the film, despite the good performances, remains dull, preachy and way too long.

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The Zahir (Paulo Coelho)

When I was 16, 17 years old, Paulo Coelho became one of my favourite writers because of The Alchemist. I was in Brazil on a school exchange programme and trying to find my way through and my place in life and spirituality. It was the perfect book for this. I still like it a lot. I also very much like Veronika Decides To Die which I read about the same time.

Now, it’s been a while since I read one of his books, so when I started The Zahir last week, I didn’t really remember how he writes but the feeling I got from the books I read before. Which was always a rather reassuring, the-world-is-good and everything’s-gonna-be-fine feeling.

As you might guess after this introduction, The Zahir didn’t leave me with this feeling. Instead I felt surprised, angry and absolutely flabbergasted because of his pretentious statements and the general “I am so humble although I know so much” [which isn’t true, in case you didn’t guess] crap. Seriously, about every third sentence provoked a heartfelt “BULLSHIT!” on my part. [For a woman, sex is not the most lustful part in a relationship, it’s feeding the man and children. Fanaticism comes from the doubts that live in men’s souls. etc. etc.]

But I can live with statements I don’t agree with [otherwise I would live in pretty lonely world], especially in books and movies. Under two conditions: It fits the character and the story and it’s not praised as universal truth (unless again it fits the character to proclaim it so). [Those rules also apply to statements I agree with.]
Both were not the case here, I’m afraid.

This book changed two things in my life:

  1. Paulo Coelho will go off my favourite writer’s list.
  2. I will never be able to read The Alchemist or Veronika Decides To Die again because I’m afraid that they were written in the same style and I haven’t noticed because of my age and general position in life when I read them.


By the way, there’s a movie coming up, based on Veronika Decides To Die with Sarah Michelle Gellar. Could be good. I don’t know. Maybe if they cut away the spirituality and concentrate on the story.