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When Noah Baumbach signed on in 2007 to write an adaptation of the novel Emperor's Children for Ron Howard to direct, he was an obvious perfect choice-- Baumbach has defined his career by writing and directing films about exactly the kind of privileged, deeply troubled New Yorkers who populate Claire Messud's novel, and he seemed likely to avoid the softening and brightening that usually happens with Hollywood adaptations of popular books.
Now it seems that Baumbach is so perfect he's gotten a promotion. The Wrap reports not only that Baumbach will take over for Howard in the director's chair, but he's got Keira Knightley, Eric Bana and Richard Gere attached to star. Set in the summer before 9/11 (much like the recent Remember Me, though please let that be all these movies have in common), The Emperor's Children follows three Ivy League graduates on the cusp of turning 30, each of them dealing with various crises in their lives.
It's a sprawling book encompassing many characters, and presumably lots of other high-profile people will be filling in around Knightley, Bana and Gere. It seems pretty clear which role each will play-- Knightley as the slightly spoiled and gorgeous Marina, Gere as her literary lion father Murray Thwaite, and Bana as the brash Australian magazine publisher who woos Marina and plans to start a publishing revolution. It's good casting all around, though some of the trickier characters-- the plain and introspective Danielle, the bizarre young idealist Bootie-- remain to be cast.
The Emperor's Children plans to start shooting this summer, which will make it Baumbach's follow-up to the well-received Greenberg. I didn't like that movie much at all, but I still have a lot of hope for Baumbach dealing with characters who aren't his own, who are already a little likable and redeemable thanks to Messud's prose. He's still the right guy for it, and hopefully more quality actors will think the same and sign on.