Happily “Never” After
A beloved book series comes to life
In May of 2013, the first book in the School for Good and Evil series by Soman Chainani was released. After nine years, it has become one of the most popular young adult novels, has had five additional installments to the series, and most recently, has been turned into a Netflix original film. In only the first week of its release, it became the No. 1 most-watched film on Netflix in 93 countries.
The film follows the story of best friends Sophie (Sophia Anne Caruso) and Agatha (Sofia Wylie) who get swept away from their provincial town to the School for Good and Evil, two magical institutions that train the heroes and villains of famous fairy tales. When Sophie gets placed in the School for Evil and Agatha in the School for Good, their ideas of what it means to be good and evil are challenged as they make history in the fairytale world.
While the book was originally intended for younger teen audiences, the series was released over a span of several years; the last book made its debut in 2020. Because of this, most of the original audience grew up with the books. Chainani’s characters and storylines seemed to mature through the years, which greatly expanded the fanbase leading up to the release of the film. The movie covers the story of the first book only, and with its immediate success, it is likely that more of the series will be adapted into movie form.
The cast and crew of The School for Good and Evil boast a vast array of incredible talents. The movie is directed by Paul Feig, who is known for his work on Bridesmaids and The Office. The leading role of Sophie is played by Sophia Anne Caruso, who is best known for her Broadway role as Lydia in the musical Beetlejuice. Her co-lead, Sofia Wylie, became famous for her role on Disney’s High School Musical: The Musical: The Series. Other main roles are played by Charlize Theron, Kerry Washington, Michelle Yeoh, and Cate Blanchett. Each of the actors truly embody their characters, bringing the book series to life in a creative yet accurate way.
The cast is not the only remarkable part of the movie, however. Given the whimsical and imaginative world that Chainani created in his book series, it is only expected that the film would follow suit in delivering this aesthetic to fans. The movie did not disappoint. Everything from the sets of the schools to the filming location (Northern Ireland), to the soundtrack was extremely detailed and clearly well thought-out. Feig even noted that they limited the use of CGI, opting to film most scenes live-action in order to make the movie feel as realistic as possible. One stand-out example of the level of detail is the different costumes used throughout the movie. They not only reflect the differences between the two schools but transform with the characters as they learn and grow.
In an interview with Kelly Clarkson, Chainani talks about the point of his story and how it carries through into the movie. “We grew up being told that if you’re good, then you will have a happy ending…We can’t be good or pure evil. We’re somewhere in between.” While this message has already been present in his work for years, The School for Good and Evil movie is sure to leave audiences questioning what they think they know about good and evil.