david_o_russell

I love me some Zombies, I love me some Jane Austen and I love me some David O. Russell so, tonight, I’m feeling pretty fine because if this new rumour is to be believed, the three are coming together. Er… finally?

Since even before the book was published, I’ve been tracking the progress of Seth Grahame-Smith’s Pride and Prejudice and Zombies towards the big screen. Back in February, the studios were bidding for the rights; Natalie Portman was first linked to the project just a week later; last week she was more formally connected, and we heard that Richard Kelly was on board as a producer.

Now, David O. Russell is named as the director and screenwriter. It’s his first period film and his first zombie film, but so varied is his back catalogue, anyway, that there’s not much he could do now that would surprise me.

The Russell rumour comes from Pajiba. They express surprise that the director has landed any gig at all, citing the stalling of his comedy Nailed and still-pending status of The Fighter. I’m not surprised, though. There’s an awful lot of talentless egomaniacs getting their repeat prescriptions filled in Hollywood and Russell is not one of them. You could even argue that managing to complete Nailed, or at least the shoot for Nailed, was an incredible achievement in face of the problems encountered.

If Portman and Kelly have pulled any sway with the production, I’m even less surprised by the director’s selection. A cynic might say that Kelly would simply have to see Russell as bankable in order to frame himself and his own bizarre career in a more commercially favourable light.

The original book astonishes by being so similar in terms of text to the original Pride and Prejudice that it reads like Austen with the oddness of zombies running loose almost blending in. I’d hope that whoever directs the film steps up and pulls a similar trick with the movie version, adopting an aesthetic that just screams Merchant Ivory as much as possible. Definitely no shaky cam here, please.

On the downside, this appointment would throw up more questions about Grackle, The Silver Linings Playbook and Aaron and Sarah, all projects Russell has been linked to over the last year or so.

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