the idiot movie

It took 27 years, but Sandi Tan is finally a full-fledged filmmaker with a slew of projects lined up. And the next project may just be your favorite movie, if the Shirkers director’s elevator pitch actually comes to fruition.

Tan, who rocketed to fame following the release of last year’s indie documentary darling Shirkers, is directing the feature film adaptation of Elif Batuman‘s semi-autobigraphical novel The Idiot, which Tan excitedly describes as Twilight meets Phantom Thread, meets Call Me By Your Name, meets Vertigo, with a little dash of Lady Bird in there. Intrigued? So are we.

In an in-depth interview with The Cut, Tan revealed her next project will be cut from the same cloth as Shirkers, but instead of telling her own story, she’s telling that of writer Elif Batuman. The Turkish American writer published a hit semi-autobiographical 2017 novel that seemed like it would defy adaptation: The Pulitzer Prize finalist is a meandering, stream-of-consciousness epistolary romance that follows Batuman as a cerebral Harvard student falling in love with the titular “idiot” told through a series of emails. But Tan saw a kindred spirit in Batuman that reflected her own journey in Shirkers and was inspired to adapt it.

According to The Cut, Tan is teaming with Animal Kingdom and Cinereach to write and direct an adaptation of The Idiot, which she enthusiastically describes as “the intelligent, creative young woman’s Twilight.

“It’s about this woman who is head smart and heart stupid — that’s why she’s the idiot,” she explains. “And she’s being sucked into this vortex of obsession by this guy, and by the end of it she gets destroyed. But instead of turning into a vampire, she turns into an artist. And to watch that transformation is a wonderful thing.”

Not interested yet? Well, Tan throws in a few classic and acclaimed films that may pique your interest. The Cut writes that Tan envisions “The Idiot as being like Alfred Hitchock’s Vertigo told from a female point of view.” She also sees it as a “teenage version” of Paul Thomas Anderson’s twisted and funny gothic romance Phantom Thread, which has its own Vertigo elements. But there’s also the “bucolic” elements of the supremely serene Call Me By Your Name and the basic premise of “Lady Bird goes to college.”

A coming-of-age romance told through a dreamy, surreal lens that recalls the perverse gothic gender dynamics of Vertigo and Phantom Thread? Yes, if Tan pulls this off, this may be my new favorite movie. And considering how great Shirkers is, she just might.

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