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Lynne Ramsay on Walking Out on ‘The Lovely Bones,’ Secret New Margaret Atwood Project

The "You Were Never Really Here" director is circling an Atwood short story for her next film, and talks her Alice Sebold adaptation that fell through.

Lynne Ramsay'A Beautiful Day' film photocall, Rome, Italy - 27 Apr 2018

Lynne Ramsay

Camilla Morandi/Shutterstock

While Lynne Ramsay’s next project looks to be an adaptation of a short story by “Handmaid’s Tale” author Margaret Atwood, the Scottish filmmaker is mostly keeping mum about the new film, her first since 2017’s “You Were Never Really Here.” She’s also working on an “environmental horror” movie with elements of a period piece, per an interview with The Hindu published this month.

“I think there’s elements of ancient horror in it with an eye for the environment, but I was being a little bit flippant,” she said about the upcoming project. “You know when people ask sometimes what are you doing, and you say just something to them. But yes, it is an original and a period piece, which is very interesting, and I’m also doing an adaptation of a short story by Margaret Atwood. I can’t really say much about that.”

However, the most fascinating part of the interview is the “We Need to Talk About Kevin” and “Morvern Callar” director’s reflection on why she abandoned an adaptation of Alice Sebold’s smash supernatural novel “The Lovely Bones,” which ended up becoming a 2009 film by Peter Jackson. His expensive vision was savaged by critics and failed to make noise at the box office.

“I think that book was a bit strange, because I saw a few chapters before the book was finished, and thought this was [a] super interesting idea, and then the book came out and became so big that I almost couldn’t change it, and I was going in a way that was quite different,” Ramsay said. “People would expect it to be exactly like the book. I wasn’t sure if that was going to make the best film. The idea was fantastic and I’ve done a few drafts and even if you don’t make something, you learn from that.”

The story of a teenage girl who watches over her family and friends from beyond the grave after she’s raped and murdered, “The Lovely Bones” was surely one of the most-read books of 2002, and its enormous popularity might have scared Ramsay off the project. “It was also in Oprah Winfrey’s book club so there was an expectation [for the film] to be like the book, so I didn’t want to mix with those expectations. Then of course, Peter Jackson made it which was much closer to the book,.” she said.

Ramsay, who made her feature debut with “Ratcatcher,” is no stranger to leaving projects. In March 2013, Ramsay vanished from the production of the troubled western “Jane Got a Gun,” whose set Ramsay left on day one, sparking a legal battle that fizzled out.

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