Yorgos Lanthimos Andrew Haigh and David Lowery Working on Ottessa Moshfegh Adaptations

Yorgos Lanthimos Andrew Haigh and David Lowery Working on Ottessa Moshfegh Adaptations

Ottessa Moshfegh is rapidly becoming a significant force in Hollywood, with three of her works currently being adapted into films by some of the industry’s most notable directors. This development is not entirely unexpected for those familiar with Moshfegh’s work. She has already co-written two screenplays: the 2022 film “Causeway” with her husband Luke Goebel and Elizabeth Sanders, and the adaptation of her debut novel “Eileen” by William Oldroyd, which she also co-wrote with Goebel.

The most buzzworthy of these upcoming adaptations involves Yorgos Lanthimos, who is set to collaborate with Margot Robbie’s production company, LuckyChap, to bring Moshfegh’s 2018 novel “My Year Of Rest And Relaxation” to the screen. Although this project is not Lanthimos’s immediate next film—his adaptation of the South Korean comedy “Save The Green Planet!” titled “Bugonia” will come first—the partnership with Moshfegh and LuckyChap has already generated significant excitement. If Emma Stone joins the cast, this film could become one of Hollywood’s most anticipated releases.

“My Year Of Rest And Relaxation” is set in New York City in 2000 and follows an unnamed young woman who, after experiencing a personal tragedy, decides to spend a year in bed, heavily sedated by sleeping pills. This altered state leads to behaviors that alienate those around her, making it a fitting project for Lanthimos’s unique directorial style. An official announcement for this adaptation is eagerly awaited.

In addition to Lanthimos’s project, Andrew Haigh is reportedly working on adapting Moshfegh’s 2014 short story “McGlue.” This story, set in the 1850s, revolves around a sailor named McGlue who wakes up chained in the hold of a ship, accused of murdering his friend Johnson. McGlue, however, has no memory of the crime. Given Haigh’s success with the miniseries “The North Water,” which also dealt with themes of sailing and murder, he seems well-suited to bring “McGlue” to life.

David Lowery, known for his work on “The Green Knight,” is also said to be adapting Moshfegh’s 2020 novel “Death In Her Hands.” This novel features an unreliable narrator, a woman who moves to a rural town and discovers a mysterious note in the woods behind her house. As she tries to unravel the mystery, the story delves into themes of isolation and paranoia. Lowery’s latest project, “Mother Mary,” is set to release later this year, so “Death In Her Hands” could very well be his next film.

These adaptations highlight Moshfegh’s growing influence in Hollywood. Her ability to craft compelling, often dark narratives has clearly caught the attention of some of the industry’s most talented directors. However, not all of her works are likely to be adapted. Her 2022 novel “Lapvona,” set in a corrupt medieval fiefdom, received mixed reviews and is considered too niche for a broader audience.

Despite this, Moshfegh’s collaborations with Lanthimos, Haigh, and Lowery place her in an enviable position within the industry. Her novel “Eileen,” which was adapted into a film starring Anne Hathaway and Thomasin McKenzie, has already proven her ability to translate her literary success into cinematic achievements.

Moshfegh’s journey to this point has been anything but conventional. Her breakthrough novel “Eileen” was written in just 90 days using a how-to guide, a fact that initially drew skepticism from some readers. However, the novel went on to win the Pen/Hemingway Award in 2016 and was shortlisted for both the Man Booker Prize and the National Books Critics Circle Award. This success paved the way for her subsequent works to gain attention from Hollywood.

The adaptation process for “Eileen” was intense, with Moshfegh and Goebel writing every word together. Their collaborative effort resulted in a film that captures the novel’s heavy noir influences and complex characters. The story, set in mid-1960s Boston, follows a young woman named Eileen who works at a local men’s prison and dreams of escaping her small town and alcoholic father. The arrival of a new psychologist, played by Hathaway, sets off a series of events that change Eileen’s life.

Moshfegh’s ability to create unlikeable yet compelling female protagonists has set her apart in the literary world. Her characters are often complex, flawed, and deeply human, challenging traditional notions of likability. This has resonated with readers and filmmakers alike, making her a sought-after author for adaptations.

As Moshfegh continues to work on new projects, both literary and cinematic, her influence in Hollywood is likely to grow. Her unique voice and willingness to tackle difficult subjects make her a standout in contemporary American literature and a rising star in the film industry.

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