Olivier Assayas robert de niro Idols eye

Back in 2011 actor Robert De Niro and director Olivier Assayas sat side by side on the Cannes jury. Now they’re making a movie together. Assayas has just hired De Niro to join Robert Pattinson in the film Idol’s Eye. The movie is scheduled to shoot in October in Chicago and Toronto.

The press release announcing the film doesn’t have many details, but there is speculation (via The Film Stage) that this is a retitled launch of the Assayas project Hubris. That was described in 2013 as “an action-packed crime thriller set against the backdrop of organized crime in Chicago in the 1970s.” Which would be something I’d watch the director of Carlos do in a heartbeat.

Indeed, this new film is described as a sophisticated heist action/thriller. And with that Chicago location planned, these probably are one and the same. Or at least one jumps off from the other.

Here’s a rundown. Hubris was a script by Bobby Moresco that Todd Field was going to direct back in 2011. It was based on a 2007 Playboy article called Boosting the Big Tuna, written by reporter Hillel Levin. The story was based on the murders of a crew of guys who robbed the house of Chicago mafia boss Tony Accardo’s (AKA “Big Tuna”) in 1978. After the break-in, several guys suspected of the crime were murdered with, well, let’s say extreme prejudice. Some were tortured. There’s a lot more to the story than that; it’s a hell of a gangland saga, with violence and a big multi-layered investigation. (It’s also the same material that Michael Mann was toying with shooting as Big Tuna a few years ago.)

So where does the name Idol’s Eye come from? The Idol’s Eye is a big diamond — a big famous diamond, in fact. In the ’70s it was owned by a Chicago jeweler. It was never stolen, and was not part of the Big Tuna robbery. But there’s a connection. The owner of the diamond was Harry Levinson, a mob-connected guy. And in 1977 a thief named John Mendell targeted Levinson for his diamond, and planned a huge heist of the rock that was only partially successful. John Mendell is one of the guys who broke into Big Tuna’s place a year later.

So what story is Assayas telling? We’d assume that De Niro is going to play Accardo, and Pattinson will be Mendell. But the title suggests this could be more about the attempt to steal the Idol’s Eye than the Accardo robbery. Both are big, great stories, with potential for some excellent cinematic flavor.

Regaardless, I’ll watch it. Assayas had a good year at Cannes this year, too. While his current film, The Clouds of Sils Maria — a film about film — didn’t win the Palme d’Or, it earned a lot of appreciation while playing on the Croisette. We’re looking forward to seeing that, and having Idol’s Eye on the horizon is a bonus.

Update: Variety adds that Rachel Weisz is now also in talks to join the cast, and confirms that this is a relaunch of the old Hubris project.

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