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If you feel like we've been talking about Natalie Portman's possible directorial debut forever, well, we basically have. Way back in 2007, word first surfaced that Portman might be itching to adapt A Tale of Love and Darkness, the autobiography of Israeli author Amos Oz and the best-selling book in that country's history. The rumors lingered for a while longer that year before disappearing entirely, but just because six years have passed doesn't mean there's not still hope! Israel Hayom (via The Playlist), Portman is heading to Israel in September to scout locations for A Tale Of Love And Darkness, and now that Oz has given his final approval over the script, production is ready to begin.
Oz's life story contains a few sadly common early-life tragedies-- his mother committed suicide when he was 12, his parents didn't really get along-- but also some specific to living in Israel in the early years of the state, growing up in a war-torn Jerusalem and eventually becoming actively involved in Israeli politics. Here's the Publishers Weekly review from the book's Amazon page:
This memoir/family history brims over with riches: metaphors and poetry, drama and comedy, failure and success, unhappy marriages and a wealth of idiosyncratic characters. Some are lions of the Zionist movement—David Ben-Gurion (before whom a young Oz made a terrifying command appearance), novelist S.Y. Agnon, poet Saul Tchernikhovsky—others just neighbors and family friends, all painted lovingly and with humor. Though set mostly during the author's childhood in Jerusalem of the 1940s and '50s, the tale is epic in scope, following his ancestors back to Odessa and to Rovno in 19th-century Ukraine, and describing the anti-Semitism and Zionist passions that drove them with their families to Palestine in the early 1930s. In a rough, dusty, lower-middle-class suburb of Jerusalem, both of Oz's parents found mainly disappointment: his father, a scholar, failed to attain the academic distinction of his uncle, the noted historian Joseph Klausner. Oz's beautiful, tender mother, after a long depresson, committed suicide when Oz (born in 1939) was 12. By the age of 14, Oz was ready to flee his book-crammed, dreary, claustrophobic flat for the freedom and outdoor life of Kibbutz Hulda. Oz's personal trajectory is set against the background of an embattled Palestine during WWII, the jubilation after the U.N. vote to partition Palestine and create a Jewish state, the violence and deprivations of Israel's war of independence and the months-long Arab siege of Jerusalem. This is a powerful, nimbly constructed saga of a man, a family and a nation forged in the crucible of a difficult, painful history.
Portman, who is journeying to Asgard for Thor: The Dark World and finally wrapped up with the massively troubled shoot for Jane Got A Gun, has a clear enough schedule this fall to be starting her directorial debut. At one point she was being courted for high school project Dare Me and mentioned as a contender for the lead role in David Fincher's Gone Girl, but if she's prioritizing A Tale of Love And Darkness, you can see why she'd be turning everything down. Portman has tried out her directing skills once before, as a segment in the anthology film New York I Love You, but after six years of waiting, she's only now taking her first shot at a feature debut. Given that she's been working in the industry since she was a child, you've got to assume she'll know her way around the other side of the camera.