We know it’s enough to keep up with whatever books and television shows are hot at the moment, but if you’ve even kept half an eye on the literary world in the past year, you likely have heard of Rachel Kushner‘s “The Flamethrowers.” A finalist for the 2013 National Book Award, it was met with mostly rave reviews, and it’s not a shock that a movie is now in development. But the real surprise is that it might have one of our favorite filmmakers at the helm.
In a profile over at The Guardian on the eve of her duty as Jury President at the Cannes Film Festival, the paper reports the filmmaker is “on the verge of closing a deal” to make “The Flamethrowers” with mega-producer Scott Rudin behind the project. Hell, yes. That’s about all the word on the project right now—nothing on yet on if Campion will write the script or if someone else will take on that gig—but the synopsis alone should get you excited (via Amazon):
In her smash-hit debut, Telex from Cuba (2008), Kushner took on corporate imperialism and revolution, themes that also stoke this knowing and imaginative saga of a gutsy yet naive artist from Nevada. Called Reno when she arrives in New York in 1977, she believes that her art has “to involve risk,” but she’s unprepared for just how treacherous her entanglements with other artists will be. Reno’s trial-by-fire story alternates provocatively with the gripping tale of Valera, an Italian who serves in a motorcycle battalion in WWI, manufactures motorcycles, including the coveted Moto Valera, and makes a fortune in the rubber industry by oppressing Indian tappers in Brazil. These worlds collide when Reno moves in with Sandro Valera, a sculptor estranged from his wealthy family, and tries to make art by racing a Moto Valera on the Bonneville Salt Flats. Ultimately, Reno ends up in Italy, where militant workers protest against the Valeras. As Reno navigates a minefield of perfidy, Kushner, with searing insights, contrasts the obliteration of the line between life and art in hothouse New York with life-or-death street battles in Rome. Adroitly balancing astringent social critique with deep soundings of the complex psyches of her intriguing, often appalling characters, Kushner has forged an incandescently detailed, cosmopolitan, and propulsively dramatic tale of creativity and destruction.
Campion’s projects have always excelled at detailing the complex lives of unique female characters, and this sounds like pretty terrific material to work, providing the director a pretty big canvas to play with. Hopefully there’s more news soon as Campion gears up to spend the next couple of weeks deliberating over the Palme d’Or.