First-time feature director Amber Tamblyn sparked to Janet Fitch’s big, bruising novel “Paint It Black” the very first time she read it. “I just had this very instantaneous, cinematic, visceral reaction to the language of the book. I really felt like, ‘Wow. Wouldn’t that make for a great movie, just about the tormented, grief-ridden, inside, interior minds of women?’” Tamblyn told us last year.
But that didn’t mean she was ready to turn it into a film, much less her feature directorial debut. She sat on it for awhile, she sat with it. And when she was finally ready to take it the screen (first just as a screenwriter, much, much later as a director), she had an even harder road ahead of her. Fitch, who had been burned a bit by the big screen adaptation of her “White Oleander,” wasn’t exactly thrilled with the prospect of someone — let alone some actress — taking on the film.
Tamblyn persisted, however, eventually winning over Fitch and making her own big, bruising film. It’s a process she detailed to us last year at the Los Angeles Film Festival, where the film premiered. (Read more about Tamblyn’s passion and process, right here.) Now the film is set for its theatrical release, and it’s high time more audiences see the remarkable work that Tamblyn, along with her stars Alia Shawkat and Janet McTeer, did to turn Fitch’s deep novel about grief into a unique and gutsy feature film.
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Fitch’s novel, first published in 2006, follows Los Angeles wild child Josie Tyrell (Shawkat), whose carefree existence is thrown into turmoil when her beloved boyfriend Michael kills himself. Josie’s grieving process is upended by the sudden appearance of Michael’s tough-as-nails mother Meredith (McTeer), whose jealousy over Michael and Josie’s bond extends even beyond his death. It’s tough, vicious material that entirely hangs between two tough, vicious women.
You can get a taste for the film in our exclusive clip below, which features one of the most wrenching scenes in the film, with Shawkat’s drama chops on full display. Watch it below.
“Paint It Black” opens in theaters on Friday, May 19.