Sunday, April 29, 2007

I've heard bad ideas before, but... this one is the worst.

Julia Stiles to do 'Bell Jar'

NEW YORK (Hollywood Reporter) -- Julia Stiles will star in and produce an adaptation of Sylvia Plath's autobiographical novel "The Bell Jar."

The actress and her representatives at Creative Artists Agency spent two years optioning rights to the coveted project from French producers StudioCanal, and closed the deal Friday.

The 1950s-era drama centers on young book editor Esther Greenwood (Stiles), who grows troubled by the social trappings of her time and slowly descends into mental illness.

Principal photography is tentatively expected to begin in early 2008. Also producing are indie firms Plum Pictures and Killer Films.

A 1979 version starred Marilyn Hassett. Since then, rights to the only novel by the Pulitzer Prize-winning poet (published around the time of her suicide in 1963) have been held by several parties. Gwyneth Paltrow starred in a 2003 biopic of Plath's life, "Sylvia."

Stiles wrote and directed the dramatic short film "Raving," produced by Plum and financed by Elle magazine based on an article in the publication. The film, starring Zooey Deschanel and Bill Irwin, will premiere this weekend at the Tribeca Film Festival and May 8 on the Sundance Channel. She was most recently in theaters with the 2006 remake of "The Omen."


Scott said...

Ugh, that really is bad. I mean, Julia Stiles is perfectly adequate at her poised/intelligent/ultimately clueless young woman thing, but come on. She's no Esther Greenwood.

Ali said...

It's not so much *her* as it is the fact that one of my all-time favourites is being tampered with. The book is unadaptable. It's the equivalent of trying to make Catcher in the Rye a film.

But yes, the casting of Stiles is also troubling to me (despite good turns here and there); she does not fare well in period at all (case in point: Mona Lisa Smile.)

Ali said...

Also, to answer your earlier question, I've been super busy with exams and essays. I'll try to get back on track when this hectic period is over, promise.

Nick M. said...

I'm nearly finished with the novel and my friend informed me this past Friday of this terrible news--I thought it was a joke.

I think Julia Stiles read a page or so while holding it in front of her face while shooting a scene in 10 Things I Hate About You and thought, "Hey, this is sort of interesting and has a prominent female character--I think I should adapt this."

Julia Stiles is the epitome of a terminally annoying actress with one or two good performances and then a load of crap (I'd also throw Renee Zellweger in that camp)

Oh, and I love the irony in the last sentence of this report.

jesse said...

Hmmm... and I was actually kinda excited about this. I've always liked Stiles and have regretted her disappearance act from film over the last few years, though I always applaud actors who decide to take the stage for a while. I'm not sure how much of her problems in Mona Lisa Smile has to do with her acting ability than a very trite, scripted character.

And as much as I love the book, I never really thought it was unadaptable. I'm curious now what happens with this project.

Ali said...

I guess nothing is "unadaptable", especially if you look at adaptations of Naked Lunch and The Hours (although I don't think the latter film is as successful as I once did...) The filmmakers would have to take a radically different approach here, in order for it to work on-screen. I can only hope they are able to avoid the dreaded voiceover altogether.

But I disagree that Mona Lisa Smile's poor screenplay can be blamed for Stiles' poor performance. The other actors brought out more than was on paper; Gyllenhaal gave an entirely sympathetic edge to the schoolgirl slut figure, while even Kirsten Dunst was able to make the boring bitch interesting. Stiles had the most fascinating character in my opinion (the one who points out the contradictions in Roberts' character and epitomizes the script's interest in the tension between old and new values) with the most potential, and she brought nothing to it at all. Dull, dull, dull.

Kathleen said...

I was secretly hoping this project would never go through. Part of it is my relationship with the book and subject matter and part of it is a somewhat unfounded distrust of Stiles. I don't know much about her acting, but I've seen her making appearances on TV shows and she's always struck me as a bit bland.