Wright returns to Britain

Posted by · 8:01 am · March 12th, 2009

We have yet to see how Joe Wright’s first foray into contemporary American cinema turned out, though the demotion of “The Soloist” from prime 2008 awards-bait to quiet 2009 spring release has had the sceptics whispering for some time now.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, then, Wright’s next project will find the “Atonement” helmer in the more familiar territory of the British period drama: “Indian Summer” will chronicle the last days of British colonial rule in India in the 1940s, following the handover of power from Viceroy of India, Lord Mountbatten, to new Indian PM Jawaharlal Nehru. (Some sources, meanwhile, suggest that the focus of the film will be a rumoured affair between Nehru and Mountbatten’s wife Edwina.)

Besides Wright, more notable names are falling into place: as the fourth collaboration between Wright and Working Title, Tim Bevan and Eric Fellner are naturally on board as producers, while William Nicholson (“Shadowland,” “Gladiator”) is taking script duties. The Guardian reports “speculation” that Cate Blanchett and Hugh Grant are in line to star, which I’d take with a pinch of salt — though it’s plausible enough casting.

As a fan of the widely misrepresented “Atonement” (it was a far smaller, stranger film than the romantic epic it was sold as), I’m on board for this. It’s not going to do much to clear the “next Anthony Minghella” buzz that has been circling around Wright for a few years now (misplaced talk at best, not least because he isn’t a writer), but it seems a good fit for his storytelling abilities. “The Jewel in the Crown” remains the benchmark for screen depictions of this fascinating era — if Wright can conjure similar magic, this could be a real contender.




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16 responses so far

  • 1 3-12-2009 at 8:29 am

    The Z said...

    I loved “Atonement” and grown more fond of “Pride and Prejudice” over the past few years. You’re right about the mis-marketing of “Atonement,” and that fact only was probably enough to scare some folks away.

    I’m still looking forward to “The Soloist,” but the anticipation is more subdued than it would have been if it was released last fall.

    This new project sounds exciting and hopefully Mr. Wright can do what he appears to do best – British period dramas. Should be a contender in 2010 or 2011.

  • 2 3-12-2009 at 8:48 am

    Chase Kahn said...

    I liked ‘Atonement’ alot, as well. It was too perverse and dark for average audiences and too awards-baiting for the cinephile. It’s too bad that it got such a bad rap — limping to a BP nomination after being a front-runner — but I think it works exceedingly well.

    Every time I watch it, McAvoy impresses me, and that ending hits hard.

  • 3 3-12-2009 at 8:51 am

    RJNeb2 said...

    Not to mention Dario Marianelli’s inspired score, one of the Academy’s finer choices for the Music Oscar in the last few years.

    Oh, and that green dress.

    Really not sure about The Soloist. It smacks a bit of TV movie territory for me, but if one thing that Wright has proved, certainly with Atonement, is that he has a fine cinematic eye.

    He sounds like a good match for Indian Summer.

  • 4 3-12-2009 at 8:51 am

    Chase Kahn said...

    That being said, I think “The Soloist” looks like extreme awards-bait — that ironically isn’t anymore — and I’m sick of seeing the trailer in theaters that’s been playing since last September for christ’s sake.

    By the way, for English soccer fans — Jamie Foxx’s get-up makes him look a lot like Chelsea striker Didier Drogba…

  • 5 3-12-2009 at 9:06 am

    Jeremy said...

    Didn’t Dreamworks move “The Soloist” to April because they wanted to ensure Robert Downey Jr. received a nomination for “Tropic Thunder”, and they didn’t want to oversaturate his presence in the market (especially since “Iron Man” was still buzzing)? I feel like I read something to that effect awhile back.

    Regardless, while I agree that the trailer looks a bit schmaltzy, I’m excited about “The Soloist”. Despite only making two films, Wright has already achieved must-see status in my eyes — “Atonement” is one of my favorite movies of all-time, and I actually believe his “Pride & Prejudice” is superior to the BBC version (blasphemy, I know).

    Given that, I’m excited about “Indian Summer” as well. The more Joe Wright movies, the better. Now we just need to find a way to ensure Keira Knightley gets a part …

  • 6 3-12-2009 at 9:07 am

    John said...

    ‘Atonement’ was one of my Top 3 last year. I just loved every frame of it. Yes, the pacing goes off a bit about 3/4ths of the way through. But the story, it’s odd framing, the acting (particularly McAvoy), the production design, the goegeous score … I found so much in it to like, love, and/or appreciate. I DO think it was mis-marketed, a bit.

  • 7 3-12-2009 at 11:15 am

    Brian Kinsley said...

    I think joe Wright really wants to be the new Lean.

  • 8 3-12-2009 at 12:06 pm

    John Foote said...

    That Dunkirk sequence in “Atonment” was just astonishing — how does Hugh Grant still get work? Has his befuddled look not run its course?? The man has no range…surely Wright, a fine director I think could do better??

  • 9 3-12-2009 at 12:16 pm

    Average Joe said...

    Jeremy, I agree on Pride and Prejudice. In fact, there’s no question in my mind that Wright’s version is superior to the BBC one. Wright’s P&P is great cinema, while the BBC version is more like illustrated text.

  • 10 3-12-2009 at 1:02 pm

    Guy Lodge said...

    Brian: Yeah, the Lean allusion is made a lot, just as it was with Minghella a few years ago — but aside from a few visual flourishes in “Atonement,” I don’t see how it applies. Neither “P&P” nor “The Soloist” appear particularly Lean-ian in their aspirations.

  • 11 3-12-2009 at 2:52 pm

    Patryk said...

    Wright should not even be mentioned in the same sentence as David Lean. Some of the greatest films of all time were created by Lean. Maybe “A Passage to India” should be revisited.

  • 12 3-12-2009 at 3:33 pm

    Bryan said...

    Cinema versus illustrated text: you said it Average Joe.

  • 13 3-12-2009 at 5:46 pm

    Bill said...

    I always considered Peter Jackson the new Lean.

  • 14 3-13-2009 at 4:37 am

    qwerty said...

    Hugh Grant is an extremely underrated actor. Great casting.

  • 15 3-13-2009 at 9:55 am

    SpiritMountainCasino... said...

    that is so cool!

  • 16 3-13-2009 at 10:07 am

    BurmaShave said...

    http://www.nndb.com/people/492/000059315/mountbatten2-sized.jpg

    Grant seems like pretty good casting, if that’s even who he’d be playing. Also I don’t think anyone will ever be the new Lean. Even if we see other epic directors who are in his league, will they have his facility with smaller drama and romance? I don’t think so. To be honest I think the only director that comes close to approaching his range is Scorsese, and even that is a stretch.