Penélope Cruz is set to star as Olga, a writer forced to give up her artistic ambitions when her husband suddenly leaves her and their two young daughters, in Isabel Coixet’s English-language adaptation of Italian author Elena Ferrante’s “The Days of Abandonment.”
The deal to make the film, which is now in development, was signed before the SAG-AFTRA strike. While Cruz did not attend the Venice Film Festival, she elicited raves from critics on the Lido for her performance in Michael Mann’s “Ferrari” as the angry, lonely, grief-ravaged Laura Ferrari, emotionally estranged from her husband Enzo Ferrari (Adam Driver).
“The Days of Abandonment,” which will transpose the novel’s original Italian setting to America, reunites the two top Spanish talents following their collaboration on another U.S.-set film, the 2008 drama “Elegy” an adaptation of Philip Roth’s novella “The Dying Animal,” about an affair between a professor (Ben Kingsley) and his student, played by Cruz.
Ferrante’s bestselling novel, which was translated and published in English in 2005, chronicles the 38-year-old Olga’s descent into devastating emptiness when her husband of 15 years leaves her for another woman. Trapped within the four walls of their Turin high-rise apartment with full responsibility of the two girls, Olga loses control of her personality and fears that she will disintegrate.
The “Days of Abandonment” film will be produced by Italy’s Lotus production, a unit of Raffaella and Andrea Leone’s Leone Film Group, by Cruz herself under her production company Moonlyon, created in partnership with with MediaPro Studio’s CEO Laura Fernández Espeso, and by her brother Edu Cruz and Marco Perego via their Nimoa Entertainment.
Coixet, whose films often explore the inner life of women, is known for prizewinning works such as “My Life Without Me” and “The Secret Life of Words,” both with Sarah Polley, and “The Bookshop” with Emily Mortimer. She will soon be in San Sebastian with the Spanish-language drama “Un Amor,” a village-set tale of emotional dependence starring Laia Costa (“Lullaby”) and “Money Heist” actor Hovik Keuchkerian. Coixet presided over the Venice Horizons jury last year.
The “Days of Abandonment” screenplay is being written by French screenwriter Laurence Coriat, best known for her work with Michael Winterbottom which comprises “Wonderland,” which premiered in Cannes; “Summer in Genoa,” starring Colin Firth; and “Everyday,” a cinema verité look at the British prison system.
Coriat also wrote high-end British TV series “McMafia” a sweeping look at global organized crime inspired by the book “McMafia: A Journey Through the Global Criminal Underworld” by journalist Misha Glenny.
“Days of Abandonment” will follow several other adaptations of Ferrante’s works, including the RAI and HBO series “My Brilliant Friend” and Maggie Gyllenhaal’s directorial debut “The Lost Daughter,” both of which premiered in Venice, as well as Netflix series “The Lying Life of Adults.”
Ferrante, who uses this fictitious name as pseudonym since she does not want her identity revealed, became an international bestseller through her “Neapolitan Quartet” which includes “My Brilliant Friend” and “The Story of the Lost Child.”
Lotus is among Italy’s top production companies, having produced a steady stream of standout movies and TV series over the years such as Paolo Genovese’s megahit dramedy “Perfect Strangers,” Paolo Virzì’s road movie “Like Crazy” and Gabriele Muccino’s ensemble comedy “There Is No Place Like Home,” which has been spun into a popular TV series on Sky Italia. Two hotly anticipated Lotus-branded projects will soon be available on Disney+: the TV adaptation of Stefania Auci’s bestseller “Lions of Sicily” directed by Paolo Genovese, and Naples-set fantasy TV series “Uonderbois” directed by Andrea De Sica and Giorgio Romano.
Cruz is represented by CAA, Untitled Entertainment and Kuranda Management.
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