By Simon Dang | The Playlist November 16, 2010 at 2:20AM
Is Alexander Payne's fifth feature film, an adaptation of Kaui Hart Hemmings' 2008 novel "The Descendants" starring George Clooney, bound for the Cannes Film Festival next May?
Deadline's Mike Fleming reports that one of that film's key players noted in a conversation with him at the AFI Festival that there had been murmurs of "a Cannes plan just a couple days ago" with any trip to the Riviera likely meaning a "domestic release would still be held until around this time next fall for maximum Oscar potential."
The rumors reiterate earlier sentiments from Payne himself who had noted that he'll be "working on it until January or February" and, while a domestic release plan had not yet been forged, "they might hold it to fall of next year." A return to Cannes would follow Payne's venture there in 2002 with "About Schmidt" starring Jack Nicholson, which screened as part of the Official Competition.
The adaptation of Hemmings' "The Descendants" -- co-scribed by Nat Faxon and Jim Rash, who plays Dean Pelton on NBC's "Community" -- lensed on location earlier this year and follows the story of a wealthy Hawaiian man named Matt King (Clooney), who takes his daughters (Shailene Woodley and Amara Miller) on a road trip to find the man his wife has been having an affair with after a boating accident leaves her critically injured. Co-starring are the likes of Beau Bridges, Matthew Lillard, Judy Greer, Robert Forster, Mary Birdsong and Nick Krause.
An early reader review sent in to Hollywood Elsewhere reported that the film "traverses that fine line between comedy and drama without a hitch" and "although there's no career-changing performance a la Thomas Haden Church in 'Sideways,' all in all, it's an entirely worthy addition to the Payne canon." That said, the Clooney character is described as one that "anchors the film as a man whose obligations to his daughters, his dying wife, his family, and even the state of Hawaii all come into play against a backdrop of infidelity, envy and greed." Definitely sounds promising.
Director Payne already has plans to follow this film up with his previously postponed project "Downsizing," a Nebraskan-set "Dr.Strangelove"-esque social comedy which had the likes of Paul Giamatti, Reese Witherspoon, Sasha Baron Cohen, Gong Li and Meryl Streep (loosely) attached, in a story about a financially struggling man who decides he can have a much nicer life if he undergoes a process to shrink himself to the size of a little person-- a process invented to battle over-consumption and resource depletion.
It's been far too long since we've have been privileged with a new film by Payne and we hope to see him on the Croisette next spring.