While Alexander Payne has carved out a niche for himself as a filmmaker sharply attuned to the nuances of human relationships, he’s always had a couple projects brewing that are wildly different than the milieu he’s become known for. Most famously would be “Downsizing,” a high-concept social satire that was to star Paul Giamatti, Reese Witherspoon and Sacha Baron Cohen, following a married couple who are low on money and decide they can have a much nicer life retiring as little people. The sci-fi-ish film that Payne called his potential “epic masterpiece” didn’t come together due to how it expensive it would’ve been and it has been on the backburner. So too has “Wilson,” an adaptation of the Daniel Clowes comic. But a new project has arrived, which looks more likely to get greenlit than those ventures.
Fox Searchlight, who has teamed in the past with Payne on “Sideways” and “The Descendants,” are set to work with him again on “The Judge’s Will.” Based on a New Yorker story by the late Ruth Prawer Jhabvala (who penned scripts for “A Room With A View,” “Howard’s End” and “The Remains Of The Day” among others), the film will tell the tale of an elderly Bombay judge who looks to ensure both his young Bombay wife and mistress are cared for after he passes away. And outside of the exotic setting, it seems like the kind of low key, human story that’s right in Payne’s wheelhouse.
No word yet on a screenwriter, but hopefully we’ll know more soon. As for “Nebraska,” it recently screened at the New York Film Festival and will open on November 22nd. [Deadline]