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As someone who has long gone through bouts of minor depression, I sometimes wish I loved more vapid forms of entertainment instead of the ones that make me feel like I’ve been emotionally gored. But great movies are great movies, and Derek Cianfrance is in the habit of making them - and now he's getting ready to try and make another. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the director will follow up this year’s masterful The Place Beyond the Pines with an adaptation of M.L. Stedman’s heart-wrenching novel The Light Between Oceans for DreamWorks. I say “heart-wrenching” only because I’ve heard it described that way. This is one of those novels with buzz I've heard time and again (though I haven't followed up and actually read the book yet).
David Heyman and his Heyday Films shingle will be producing, as will Jeffrey Clifford. Heyman made a mint on the Harry Potter franchise, and also produced Alfonso Cuaron’s upcoming Gravity, which is getting a ton of positive buzz so far. Getting him and DreamWorks together for this adaptation will make Cianfrance a household name.
The novel, which was published by Scribner in July 2012, has been in DreamWorks’ radar since November. It tells the story of a man working at a lighthouse on an island off the coast of Australia after the end of World War I. While there, his wife experiences problems with multiple pregnancies. When a boat drifts by with a dead man and a screaming infant inside, the couple decides to keep it for themselves. It’s a decision that makes sense while on the seclusion of an island, but when they move back to the mainland the consequences come to bear and lives are shattered.
Shattered lives are what hold up the walls to CIanfrance’s wheelhouse. In 2010, he gave the world one of the most depressingly authentic relationships ever put on film with Blue Valentine, (a film that I still say only initially got an NC-17 rating because the MPAA didn’t want children to have to think about going through anything that emotionally complex). Then with Place Beyond the Pines, he opened his thematic work to include multiple generations of families, and how the ripples of repercussions can carry on forever. Considering Ryan Gosling is a big part of why both of these films were so effective, I wouldn’t be surprised or disappointed if he got the lead here as well.
Cianfrance is currently working with Sam Fussell on an HBO pilot called Muscle, which will be an adaptation of Fussell’s 1992 memoir about his obsessive quest for physical perfection. But that’s been in progress for a while, so here’s hoping he makes time to get The Light Between Oceans on a fast track to production.
If you haven’t caught The Place Beyond the Pines yet, it’s been out on Blu-ray and DVD for a month now. Get to it.