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For his most recent film The Face of Love, director Arie Posin worked with a trio of amazing actors – Ed Harris, Robin Williams and Annette Bening – all of whom are between 55 and 65 years old. His next film, Duchess, also has a middle-aged character at its center, and Glenn Close has signed on for the lead part. While ageism is obviously alive and well in Hollywood, it’s great to see youngish directors keeping such elite thespians working.
A young actress wouldn’t even work here, as Close will be portraying Anna Anderson, the formerly institutionalized Prussian woman who changed her name and claimed to be the Russian Grand Duchess Anastasia, the youngest daughter of Tsar Nicholas II and Alexandra, who was long thought to have been killed along with the rest of her family in 1918. Even though she was proven to be an imposter, public opinion and media outlets kept the story going and somehow the "mystery" persisted.
The story, according to Deadline, is a dark road trip comedy following Anderson during her final days. After moving to the United States in the late 1960s, she married history professor Jack Manahan, who was 20 years younger than her. Their weird life together was interrupted when Anderson was put into an institution in 1983, where she was then broken out by Manahan and they spent the next few days on the run from authorities while driving around Virginia. It’s seemingly a strange portion of the tale to focus on for a film, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t interested.
The script was co-written by Posin and Nicholas Kazan, who was quite a popular screenwriter during the late 1980s and 1990s, having made films such as Reversal of Fortune and At Close Range. Kazan hadn’t gotten anything produced since 2002’s J-Lo thriller Enough, but has the indie drama Blood Moon currently in post-production.
Close, who worked with Posin on the criminally underappreciated dark comedy The Chumscrubber, spent 2007-2012 playing the tough-as-nails litigator Patty Hewes in the law drama Damages, but is making a resurgence in cinema. She’ll star in the docudrama Low Down about pianist Joe Albany, Tim Blake Nelson’s mugging drama Anesthesia and James Gunn’s upcoming sci-fi superhero extravaganza Guardians of the Galaxy, which will probably be her biggest film in well over a decade.
While it doesn’t sound like the kind of hard-hitting true life drama that was the 2012 documentary The Imposter, I have a lot of faith in Posin’s storytelling, and Duchess will definitely be on my list of films to look out for, assuming I don’t continually mistake it for the 2008 film The Duchess.
The Mockingbird Pictures production will begin filming later this year in Virginia. Below you can watch the documentary Our World: In Search of a Lost Princess, which takes you into the entire strange and tragic story.