‘The innocent’, the adaptation of the homonymous novel starring Mario Casas, Aura Garrido and Alexandra Jiménez, has been at the top of the Netflix ranking for weeks. It is the first work that Casas has premiered since last March he won his well-deserved first Goya (for ‘You will not kill’) and, for that alone, it was already one of the most anticipated releases on the platform.
But it is that, in addition, ‘The innocent’ has not disappointed. Directed by Oriol Paulo, the series is a product that, although it has elements that may not work at all, altogether it is the most addictive, especially for fans of crime fiction in general and Harlan Coben in particular.
One of the best assets that ‘The innocent’ has is, broadly speaking, his magnificent adaptation. Alexandra Jiménez herself was the first to praise the fidelity with which Coben’s novel has been brought to television.
“Essentially, the book and the series are the same for the characters and the events, but it is true that there are different elements. There are quite a few differences, but nothing is left of the fundamental that has to tell,” said the actress recently.
The biggest differences that we can find in the series with respect to the novel
In the Netflix fiction, Mateo Vidal (Casas) lives with his wife on the outskirts of Barcelona. The city of Barcelona is the most important location in the series, which also develops an important plot in Marbella. Obviously, the book has no place in Spain: Harlan Coben, a native of Newark, sets his story between New Jersey and Nevada.
What’s more, the protagonist’s name is much more revealing in the original version: the author christened its main character as Matt Hunter (“hunter”: “hunter”), certainly a much more “literal” surname than that of Paulo’s version. Like the rest of the characters, whose names have also been Castilianized with respect to the book.
Undoubtedly, the great difference between the literary and television versions of ‘The innocent’ is the end of the series, of which, by the way, the author is more than proud. The last chapter has a twist that the original novel doesn’t contain.
SPOILER from the end below:
While the book ends with a happy Mateo Vidal at home with his wife, her daughter and their baby, leading a very quiet life and having left behind all the events of the past, in the series, that scene is followed another one that returns the dark side of the protagonist.
It is a flashback to the time when he was in jail. In the scene we see how, indeed, Mateo murdered that prisoner in cold blood, a case that was never clarified. Does that mean that fiction does not close the door to a second season? Or is it simply a license that Oriol Paulo took, delving even further than the author of the novel into the nature of the character?
Far from defending loyalty to his product tooth and nail, Harlan Coben claimed to be “very open to change” when it was decided that ‘The innocent’ would be adapted in Spain. “You will see Mario Casas do things that go beyond what is read in the book. It’s kind of wild“, has declared the writer.
If you liked ‘The innocent’, you have more adaptations of Harlan Coben on Netflix
‘The innocent’ has not been the first Harlan Coben novel that we have seen on Netflix … nor will it be the last. The complete work of the North American is made up of three large blocks: the series of Myron bolitar, that of Mickey Bolitar and, finally, the independent novels (these, with a total of 18 titles).
In 2018, the author and platform reached an exclusive global agreement of five years (they say that millionaire figures were handled) to adapt 14 of their novels that do not belong to any series.
However, the first work they did together was not an adaptation: Coben created for Netflix the original series ‘Safe’, starring a Michael C. Hall with a strange British accent. This miniseries narrated the disappearance of a teenage girl in a London suburb where nothing is what it seems.
A year and a half later, in January 2020, ‘Do not talk to strangers’, Coben’s first novel converted into a series, premiered on the platform. Also set in England (the book, like ‘The Innocent’, takes place in the US), this disturbing series mixes several stories with one point in common: a strange woman who seems to know everything about everyone.
Since last summer we can also see the third of his collaborations that, this time, takes place in the Polish subsidiary of the platform. It is about ‘Forest Inside’, the television version of the novel ‘The forest‘. Set between 1994 and the present, ‘Inside Forest’ investigates mysterious disappearances that were never solved.
It is obvious that this writer does not have that characteristic fear of the authors that the television or film product is not faithful to the original. Harlan Coben is determined to take risks in the adaptations of his novels, and both ‘The innocent’ and ‘Do not talk to strangers’ or ‘Inside the forest’ are proof of this.
To begin with, none of the three have developed in the environment in which their creator located them, but that has not been a problem for him, who has been very involved in all their adaptations. In fact, Coben has participated in Oriol Paulo’s ‘El inocente’ from the reading of the first scripts to the final editing. A particular case that, apparently, is giving excellent results to Netflix.