Naomi Watts, Robin Wright, James Frecheville (Animal Kingdom) and Xavier Samuel are on board to star in Anne Fontaine's (Coco Before Chanel) The Grandmothers, adapted from the 2003 novella by Nobel Prize-winner Doris Lessing by– it's getting better–Christopher Hampton (Atonement, Dangerous Liaisons). In the story, two childhood friends/neighbors (Watts, Wright) each fall in love with the other's son, to the disgust of their wives. Sounds bizarre (and a bit like Toronto title The Oranges). Amazon sheds more light on it:
"an astonishing tour de force, a shockingly intimate portrait of an unconventional extended family and the lengths to which they will go to find happiness and love. Written with a keen cinematic eye, the story is a ruthless dissection of the veneer of middle-class morality and convention which manages to be at once universal and desperately, heartbreakingly personal."
Shooting will start in February in Australia (home to Watts, Frecheville and Samuel), with Andrew Mason producing, and French companies Gaumont and Mon Voisin backing (Fontaine is French).
– Another Animal Kingdom star, Joel Edgerton may add to his already impressive slate (the under-appreciated Warrior, the upcoming Great Gatsby, Kathryn Bigelow's Kill Bin Laden and more), with Noam Murro's 300: Battle of Artemisia. The sequel to Zack Snyder/Frank Miller's homoerotic epic battle 300 (which is to blame for many subsequent copycat titles) relies on actual manliness and Edgerton has it in spades. But he can do better. (Edgerton talks about his amazing last year and choosing roles below.)
– Nicole Kidman and Phillip Noyce will team up for My Wild Life (as rumored in May). Here's some backstory on the project from ThePlaylist and THR. The film is set to shoot early next year for a Holiday 2012 release. It is based on the life of Daphne Sheldrick, who fought to prevent the extinction of elephants in Kenya. Who doesn't love a drama about women saving animals (Guerillas in the Mist's Sigourney Weaver was nominated for an Oscar in 1989 for her portrayal of Dian Fossey)? Or women in Africa (Out of Africa; Meryl Streep was nominated in 1986 )? Kidman wants Oscar #2.
– Guillaume Canet's adaptation of the 2008 thriller in which he starred, Les Liens Du Sang, will also serve as his English-language directorial debut. (If Ben Affleck can remake Canet's Tell No One, the director might as well cash in on the American market as well.) He is now collecting an attractive cast led by his lady love and baby mama Marion Cotillard, plus Mark Wahlberg and Zoe Saldana. Canet and James Gray (Two Lovers) are working on the script, which is a 70s drama about two brothers, one fresh out of prison and the other a cop. No word yet on who plays what. Wild Bunch is looking to handle the project.
– Wild Bunch already as plenty to sell at AFM. Along with Low Life (Cotillard, Joaquin Phoenix, Jeremy Renner), Vincent Maraval is also handling The Players. Reuniting The Artist director Michel Hazanavicius and Cannes actor-winning star Jean Dujardin, The Players is a French omnibus comedy written by Dujardin and Gilles Lellouche. Seven sketches about infidelity will each be directed by different filmmaker. Infidelity never seems to go out of style on screen. The directors include Fred Cavaye, Jan Kounen, Emmanuelle Bercot and Eric Lartigau. Dujardin and Lellouche (who is in the upcoming Sherlock Holmes sequel) will also act, along with Alexandre Lamy, Melanie Doutey, Guillaume Canet, Sandrine Kiberlain (Mademoiselle Chambon) and Isabelle Nanty.
– Henrik Ibsen's beloved play, A Doll's House, is heading to the big screen with Charles Huddleston producing and directing from a script he co-wrote with Michele Martin. The story has been updated and set in modern times, about the wife of an overbearing bank executive amidst the financial crisis. Martin will star as Nora Helmer, alongside Ben Kingsley (Dr. Rank), Julian Sands (Nathan Gynt) and Jena Malone (Christine Linde).
– Guillermo del Toro is producing Universal's Midnight Delivery, and Game of Thrones director Brian Kirk is on board to helm the project, about a father who becomes a drug mule in order to save his son. The script, written by Neil Cross, is based on del Toro's idea. Kirk is also attached to direct Lionsgate's Paper Wings, which is rumors to have Will Smith attached.
[Edgerton photo courtesy of Mark Rogers]