May 7, 2012

Tradecraft: Aussie Helmer Tackles le Carre's Our Kind of Traitor

Variety reports that Australian director Justin Kurzel (Snowtown, aka The Snowtown Murders) will direct the film adaptation of John le Carré's latest spy novel, 2010's Our Kind of Traitor, for The Ink Factory and Potboiler Productions. (The latter company also produced Fernando Meirelles' 2005 le Carré adaptation The Constant Gardener and Anton Corbijn's upcoming one, A Most Wanted Man.) As we first heard back around the time of the book's publication, Hossein Amini (who wrote Drive, as well as the upcoming Jack Ryan reboot) penned the script. Le Carré himself will executive produce (with Tessa Ross), while his sons Stephen Cornwell and Simon Cornwell will produce along with Rhodri Thomas, Gail Egan and Andrea Calderwood. Our Kind of Traitor, one of le Carre's best novels in years (despite the irritatingly abrupt ending), tells the story of a young British couple, Perry and Gail, who meet a charismatic Russian gangster on vacation. He enlists them as go-betweens to contact MI6, claiming he has information vital to British Intelligence which he'll share if they'll relocate his huge family to England. There's a terrific role for Bill Nighy (he's not cast or anything; I'm just putting it out there that he has to play this part!) as Hector, a zealous, free-thinking spymaster who shares more than a few traits with George Smiley, and the gangster character, Dima, could easily earn someone an Oscar. On top of that, Gail  may be the author's best female character to date. According to the trade, the film is expected to take place in London, Paris, Moscow and Tangiers, which is a slightly different checklist from the book's locations. (Switzerland figures prominently, and I'm hoping it's just been left out here, and not written out of the story.)

Kurzel, who has overseen Amini's last few drafts of the script, seems well-suited to the material. I haven't seen Snowtown, but based on what the director told Variety, its sounds like he's on the right page. Besides being attracted to the surrogate father-son relationship between Perry and Dima, he told the trade, "I have enormous respect for John le Carré and the last few films [based on his work] have been of enormous quality. I'm more inspired than intimidated, honestly. Our Kind of Traitor is a different type of le Carré, it's more visceral than Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. Le Carré has been excited by and encouraging about our interpretation and where we want to take it as a film."

No comments: