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The joy of most novels is in the trip the author takes the reader’s imagination on, allowing a string of words to substitute for locations and emotions, pulling characters from one writer’s mind into everyone else’s. Assuming it’s a good novel, of course. And even though Jess Walter’s years-spanning romance Beautiful Ruins hasn’t been out all that long, it has gotten overwhelmingly positive reviews from critics everywhere. So that means it will never get a cinematic adaptation, right? Of course not!
Thanks to Coming Soon, we now know that Todd Field will be making Beautiful Ruins his next feature, teaming up with Cross Creek Pictures co-founders Brian Oliver and Tyler Thompson. Smuggler Films, run by Patrick Milling Smith and Brian Carmody, will also be producing. Field, the screenwriter for all of his past features, will be co-scripting with Walter himself.
Field has been quiet for a while now, not directing anything since his second feature, 2006’s Little Children, which took its own time in following 2001’s In the Bedroom. For the last couple of years, Field has had an adaptation of the novel The Creed of Violence in his sights, but it seems to be in constant pre-production mode. Incidentally, another of Walter’s books, The Financial Lives of the Poets, has also been passed around for a while now under the name Bailout, last attracting Jack Black to the project, though that may have fallen through.
Beautiful Ruins seems like a tough thing to film, as it starts off on the Italian coast in the early 1960s, set around the productions of Cleopatra and La Dolce Vita, and follows three characters as their paths continue to cross for the next fifty years, taking them to Edinburgh and Hollywood along the way. Expect some weird CGI make-up effects.