In the admittedly tiny sub-genre of harrowing-late-1990s-domestic-dramas-starring-Ray-Winstone-and-directed-by-well-respected-British-character-actors-who-have-yet-to-make-a-second-film, Gary Oldman‘s “Nil By Mouth” just has the edge — underrated to this day, the film showed an assured hand from Oldman, and has two towering performances, by Winstone and Kathy Burke, the latter of whom picked up Best Actress at Cannes in 1997. But that’s not to undervalue Tim Roth‘s “The War Zone,” an adaptation of Alexander Stuart‘s novel examining incest and sexual abuse in a Devonshire family — it’s incredibly powerful stuff, and it’s a shame that Roth has never followed it up.
But the actor, who currently stars on the seemingly-not-long-for-this-world TV procedural “Lie To Me,” looks to be finally working toward a belated sophomore feature, one firmly within the wheelhouse he established on “The War Zone.” The Hollywood Reporter were at the Off Plus Camera International Festival of Independent Cinema in Poland, where Roth was being honored with a lifetime achievement award, and Roth revealed that he’s currently planning an adaptation of Mark Parent‘s 1996 memoir “Turning Stones: My Days and Nights with Children at Risk.”
Parent moved to New York in his twenties to work as an actor, but found himself working as a social worker for the Emergency Children’s Services, a job which involved him protecting victims of child abuse — to the point where he’d be forced to arrest parents or separate children from their families. Roth told The Hollywood Reporter that Parent “was an incredible social worker — he saved tons of children from horrible situations. It’s a really interesting story, and I couldn’t get this film made [before], but it’s the companion to ‘The War Zone.'”
It’s clearly a subject close to Roth’s heart — he’s been open about his own experiences with abuse as a child. And while things are still early yet, with no producer attached, Roth already has an actor in mind for the lead, and it’s one of the best in the business: Sam Rockwell, star of “Confessions of a Dangerous Mind,” “Moon,” “Iron Man 2,” among many others. At 42, the actor is twice the age that Parent was when he began his work, but the actor’s versatile and fresh-faced enough that we’re sure he won’t have a problem carrying it off.
Roth also announced his intention to shoot the project digitally, saying that “It will give me real control of the atmosphere surrounding the children. I can do take after take, I don’t have to worry about money or how much [film] stock I’ve got, or about the guy who takes the film to the lab in the middle of the night having a crash because he’s out of beer.” It’s a typically smart, respectful approach, reminiscent of the way the actor worked with his young stars on “The War Zone,” Freddie Cunliffe and Lara Belmont. While we’re sure the film won’t be an easy watch, the prospect of Roth and Rockwell teaming up, with such dramatic source material, is exciting enough that we hope someone steps up to finance the project soon.