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You have to be kind of crazy to not be a little bit excited about this week's news that proud Bostonian Matt Damon and John Krasinski were planning to work on a movie together, co-writing a script that Damon planned to direct. Damon has been hoping to make his directorial debut for a while now, and given the roster of great directors and great performances he's turned in himself, there's good reason think this will be a smooth transition. But what kind of director is Damon going to be? And given that the movie is still untitled, what on earth is it going to be about? I came up with some wild speculation based on Damon's previous work and the people he's done that work with. Short answer: expect great things.
It will be politically minded. This comes partly from reports in the trades that it's a story similar to Erin Brockovich, in which Julia Roberts crusaded against a corporation that was poisoning the water in a small town. But look at the fact that he narrated the passionate financial collapse documentary Inside Job, or his famous rant about the wages teachers deserve to paid. This guy is not afraid to put his political views out there, and while I don't expect him to be strident as a director-- more on that later-- it seems clear there will be a political message or two embedded in this film.
It probably won't be afraid of getting sentimental. If there's a common thread in the movies Damon has made in the last 10 years, it's that they're all exceedingly human. Even when he's playing an international super spy or a goofy executive informing the FBI or a callow Texas Ranger, the stories always end up confirming the importance of relationships and the general goodness of humanity. Hell, look at Contagion, one of the most terrifyingly bleak looks at modern life-- it's Damon's story alone that ends on a note of happiness . It's not that Damon's movie will be schmaltzy, but it will probably wear its heart on its sleeve.
It might focus on kids in some way. This is mostly a hunch based on the plot description of Damon playing a salesman who enters a town that changes his life, plus the fact that he talks frequently in interviews about his four kids, constantly describing himself as a family man. (When People named him the Sexiest Man alive in 2007, he told them "You've given an aging suburban dad the ego-boost of a lifetime.") It seems likely that if Damon is directing a remotely personal story, there will be some kids involved in all that life-changing.
He probably won't be fussy or overbearing on the set.
Think of the directors Damon has worked with the most often. Clint Eastwood famously finishes his films on time and under budget. The Coen Brothers don't over-direct their actors, preferring to let them figure out their own way through a scene. Steven Soderbergh is known to cut scenes on his laptop before the day is over. Damon has constantly preferred to work with directors who are the opposite of the head-scratching, insecure, overbearing nutjobs you usually hear about in gossip blind items, and it seems obvious all that on-set experience with consummate professionals must have rubbed off. Even being an actor on Damon's set seems like it would be easy and pleasant.
It might be quirkier or even better than you expect. This has nothing to do with Damon, really, but more with Dave Eggers, who helped John Krasinski come up with the original script idea. Eggers is known primarily as a writer, for books like A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius and the literary quarterly McSweeney's, but he's got two screenplays to his name as well, Away We Go and Where the Wild Things Are. The second one turned out far better than the first, and still had its problems, but Eggers has put far more good into the world than bad, and more importantly, has an original voice. Even if this untitled project is being compared to Erin Brockovich, it's guaranteed to have a completely different identity of its own.