Directed By: Gavin O’Connor
Written By: Brian Duffield and Anthony Tambakis (rewrite)
Cast: Natalie Portman, Ewan McGregor, Rodrigo Santoro, Joel Edgerton and Noah Emmerich.
Synopsis: After her outlaw husband returns home shot and barely alive, Jane reluctantly reaches out to an ex-lover who she hasn’t seen in over 10 years to help her defend her farm when the time comes that her husband’s gang eventually tracks him down to finish the job (IMDb).
Why It Could Succeed:
Portman’s name alone attracts attention – she recently took home the Oscar in 2011 for her role in Darren Aronofsky’s psycho-sexual drama Black Swan – she’s the star and producer of the film – but her co-stars McGregor, Edgerton and Emmerich could attract attention if they pull off great performances. Edgerton is teaming up again with Warrior director O’Connor, which was written by Duffield. In case anyone forgot, it was a pretty decent film, unfortunately overshadowed by the recent success of another boxing film – David O. Russell’s The Fighter the previous year. Edgerton was also overshadowed by the amazing performances of his co-stars – Tom Hardy and Nick Nolte – and would need to step up his game here to demonstrate he can pull off a performance to brag about this time. Nolte earned an Oscar nomination for Warrior in 2012, so O’Connor might strike luck again and extract another great performance from one of his actors. Who? Maybe McGregor; He’s had an amazing career thus far, working with big name directors and starring in career-cementing films but has never been nominated for an Oscar. He can do meaty/emotional roles, just look at last year’s The Impossible, but will need a superlative performance to attract Oscar voters. Here, he’s playing a villain – could be interesting. The film is also being distributed by the Weinstein Company, who apparently see some hope in it.
Why It Could Not:
Where to start? The film has already attracted negative press before shooting even began. The film is now infamous for having a myriad of re-casts and what Deadline dubbed “the worst first day of shooting in movie history.” Before O’Connor stepped in, We Need to Talk About Kevin director Lynne Ramsay was the helmer until she left the set before the first day of shooting was slated to begin (she recently privately settled her lawsuit with the film’s producers earlier this month). At that time, Jude Law was cast as the villain before being replaced by McGregor. Michael Fassbender was also originally attached to star before his departure and replacement by Bradley Cooper who also eventually left due to scheduling conflict. Emmerich eventually filled in the spot. Ramsay, known for her hauntingly beautiful images, would have surely done justice to this western drama, but we’ll never know. And stars like Law and Fassbender would have surely attracted Oscar voters’ attention.
Casting aside, Jane has many things working against it. Firstly, it’s set to be released Aug. 29 – not exactly an awards-season friendly date. Secondly, as mentioned, it’s a western. Not since Eastwood’s 1992’s Unforgiven, has a western won Best Picture at the Academy Awards; There’s been a few good ones in the past couple of years that went unacknowledged, e.g., James Mangold’s 3:10 to Yuma remake with incredible performances all around. Also, it’s difficult to judge the material when the writers have little to no credentials. This is Duffield’s first screenplay, who’s been slated to write the two Divergent sequels, and Tambakis’ only other feature-film credit is Warrior. There’s also no trailer yet, so we’ll have to wait on how the visual aesthetics – costumes, sets, cinematography – will come together.
Costume Design (Catherine George)
Supporting Actor (Ewan McGregor)
Supporting Actor (Joel Edgerton)