The last time Kathryn Bigelow and Annapurna Pictures wunderkind/patron Megan Ellison worked together, the result – 2012's “Zero Dark Thirty” – was magic. It's just been announced that they'll join forces again on an adaptation of New York Times journalist Anand Giridharadas' “The True American” with “Dark Knight Rises” actor Tom Hardy attached to star.
The film will tell the true story of self-styled “American Terrorist” Mark Stroman, who in the charged days following 9/11, murdered two immigrants in Texas. A third victim, Air Force veteran Raisuddin Bhuiyan, survived being shot in the head during Stroman's rampage. The film will pick up, according to the press release, with Stroman identified and apprehended, where it will “tack toward deeper emotional waters” in a “richly detailed, affecting account of two men bound, as it turns out, by more than just an act of violence.
Two years ago Bigelow crushed her follow-up to 2009's Oscar-winning “The Hurt Locker.” “Zero Dark Thirty” was easily one of the most critically acclaimed films of the year, but some of the material presented in the film made a number of US Senators nervous (perhaps at certain peoples' urging, perhaps not). While the film netted a Best Picture nomination, Bigelow was shockingly passed over a Best Director bid just three years after she became the first woman to win the prize.
It's interesting to see that she's still caught up in issues about and surrounding war and terrorism. But I'm very intrigued to see her diving into something more intimate this time around. Bigelow has long been a dissector of machismo on film, and “The True American” feels like a perfect opportunity for her to continue to flex those muscles.
The press release did not indicate a writer for the project. It would be nice to see Mark Boal, the Oscar-winning screenwriter of both “The Hurt Locker” and “Zero Dark Thirty” saddle up again. But after their private life became such a “thing” during the release of “Thirty” and with Boal tied up with his own venture, Page One, that's probably unlikely.
Annapurna has obviously been on a role lately, securing tons of awards love last year for Spike Jonze's “Her” and David O. Russell's “American Hustle,” with Bennett Miller's “Foxcatcher” set to premiere at Cannes within the week. Ellison remains a true saving grace for artists like Bigelow who like to play outside the confines of typical Hollywood fare, yet at a price, and I'm sure “The True American” will be another fascinating partnership.