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Plot Details Firmed Up For Terrence Malick's Untitled Ben Affleck/Rachel McAdams Film

by Oliver Lyttelton
November 2, 2011 1:04 AM
13 Comments
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That's His Next Film, Not His Next Next Film, His Next Next Next Film Or His Next Next Next Next Film



What in the name of grace and nature has gotten into Terrence Malick recently? With the announcement yesterday of two new projects both starring Christian Bale and Cate Blanchett -- "Lawless," also with Ryan Gosling and Rooney Mara, and "Knight of Cups" with Isabel Lucas -- it means that the reclusive auteur looks likely to make more films in the space of this decade than he did in the previous 35 put together. Of course, he unveiled "The Tree of Life" this year, and has the IMAX documentary "Voyage of Time" reportedly still in the works, not to mention his rumored involvement with "Green Lantern 2." Okay, that we just made up.

But there's one more that shouldn't be forgotten, considering that Malick already has it in the can -- the untitled romantic drama, also referred to as "The Burial." The film shot at the end of 2010 -- plus reshoots in Paris this spring -- with a cast including Ben Affleck, Rachel McAdams, Olga Kurylenko, Rachel Weisz, Javier Bardem, Barry Pepper, Charles Baker and Jessica Chastain -- but solid plot details have, as is usually the case with Malick's projects, been thin on the ground. However, 24 Frames have a few updates on the project, including a logline that gels with a gossipy, spoilery report that surfaced on The Wrap late last year.

The LA Times blog says that the film "concerns a philanderer (Affleck) who, feeling at loose ends, travels to Paris, where he enters a hot-and-heavy affair with a European woman (Kurylenko). Said Lothario returns home to Oklahoma, where he marries the European woman (in part for visa reasons). When the relationship founders, he rekindles a romance with a hometown girl (McAdams) with whom he's had a long history." As set photos last year confirmed, Bardem plays a priest in the picture that Affleck's character visits for advice. Supposedly the contemporary set film -- the first in Malick's career -- is set to retain the director's trademark distinctive visuals, while also being perhaps more commercial and upbeat than, say "The Tree of Life." But then, you never know with Malick, do you.

There's plenty of mysteries left on this one, however. For example, it emerged this week that Michael Sheen and Amanda Peet both have small roles in the film; how do they figure into the picture? Is it really called "The Burial?" How do Rachel Weisz's $100 protein bars fit in? And, perhaps most importantly, when will we end up seeing the thing? Malick wrote in a statement earlier in the year that the film was "rushing towards a mix," which sounds positive, and StudioCanal (then Optimum) bought the U.K. rights, planning a 2012 release for the film.

But with Malick shooting two films in 2012, if the film isn't ready before he gets his next one underway, we could end up facing a wait as long as the one for "The Tree of Life," particularly as the director has supposedly refused to sell the film to a U.S. distributor so far. But then, Malick does seem to have a new fire in his belly, so it's conceivable that the movie could be close to completion. Is another return to trip to Cannes next spring in the works? Let's hope so.

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13 Comments

  • Styles | November 2, 2011 6:56 AMReply

    The report of "a more straightforward narrative than usual" is based on some random person reading the script. The Tree of Life script looks like a fairly normal script with tons of dialogue, too (compared to the final film). I will, however, take the word of Jack Fisk, who, as everyone knows, is close friends with Malick and has worked on every one of his films, including this one, when he says, "it's in the style of Tree of Life, but on steroids."

  • Edward Davis | November 2, 2011 4:12 AMReply

    Tree of Life had some autobiographical elements as well.

  • Paul Maher Jr. | November 2, 2011 4:05 AMReply

    Good find! Very autobiographical too -- “concerns a philanderer (Affleck) who, feeling at loose ends, travels to Paris, where he enters a hot-and-heavy affair with a European woman (Kurylenko). Said Lothario returns home to Oklahoma, where he marries the European woman (in part for visa reasons). When the relationship founders, he rekindles a romance with a hometown girl (McAdams) with whom he’s had a long history.”

    I wouldn't regard the director as a philanderer but he did marry his second wife Michelle Morette from Paris in 1985, move to Austin, Texas with her and her daughter from her first husband and then split from her about the time The Thin Red Line began filming, to then take up with childhood friend Alexandra "Ecky" Wallace to whom he later married a year later in 1998. Or it's all a coincidence...

  • RNL | November 2, 2011 3:56 AMReply

    "Supposedly the contemporary set film—the first in Malick’s career—is set to retain the director’s trademark distinctive visuals, while also being perhaps more commercial and upbeat than, say “The Tree of Life.”"

    Wasn't it suggested a few months ago that this film was 'even more experimental' than The Tree of Life?

  • RNL | November 2, 2011 3:53 AMReply

    "the reclusive auteur looks likely to make more films in the space of this decade than he did in the previous 35 put together."

    LOL

  • Glass | November 2, 2011 3:00 AMReply

    If Malick's work explained one thing about him, it's that he was a philandering, horny bastard. Shouts out.

  • Kevin Jagernauth | November 2, 2011 2:52 AMReply

    Duh, good point Matt. Seems very much based on Malick's life/experience.

  • Matt | November 2, 2011 2:50 AMReply

    So The Burial is about Malick's life? That's exciting. This is exactly what happened to Malick, isn't it? He moved to Paris, married a woman there, came back to the States, and divorced, before then marrying his high school sweetheart. Maybe that's all just legend.

  • Cde. | November 2, 2011 1:38 AMReply

    I imagine he will begin production of his next two (or perhaps work on Voyage) shortly after he finishes editing this one. Production on this film started within weeks of the first screening to distributors of the final cut of Tree last year.

  • bunty | November 2, 2011 1:24 AMReply

    Didn't we hear that this film was "more experimental" than The Tree of Life, and contained ghosts and all sorts? Kind of contradicts the LA Times prediction of a more straightforward narrative than usual.

  • Christian | November 2, 2011 1:22 AMReply

    Too bad Christian Bale dropped out of this to do The Flowers of War and The Dark Knight Rises. This film was still shooting in May.

  • voss | November 2, 2011 1:20 AMReply

    I still can't stand Ben Affleck. It's so weird - I never minded him until he "rebooted" his career and started wearing that pretentious "I'm an artist, guys" demeanor in all of his interviews.

    Armageddon, Changing Lanes? Cool, I'll take it. The Town, trying to talk shop with David Fincher and the Coen brothers in a roundtable discussion? Fuck off, broham.

  • Glass | November 2, 2011 1:14 AMReply

    I would still be surprised (pleasantly!) if this was released in 2012. I have no idea how much involvement he has in the day-to-day of his post-production processes, so who knows - he could screen cuts of it while he's off shooting the other two movies.

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