20th Century Fox has optioned the rights for the film version of the novel Red Sparrow, and may have Darren Aronofsky to direct. Set in contemporary Russia rules by a “ruled by blue-eyed, unblinking President Vladimir Putin,” the story revolves around Russian intelligence officer Dominika Egorova, who is drafted against her will to become a “Sparrow,” or trained seductress in order to operate against a young CIA agent named Nathaniel Nash. Leading, as might be expected, to a sexual attraction that threatens both. Red Sparrow the novel debuted back in June, the work of author Jason Matthews.
Aronofsky may prove an ideal choice considering his visual style and capacity for developing strong female characters, both in evidence in his 2010 hit Black Swan, the highest grossing film of his career so far. And the cinematic glimmer of a female-driven espionage tale sounds alluring to fight alongside the James Bonds and Jason Bournes that hit the multiplex every few years. So far the female spy thriller has been a space mostly carved out on television, with series like Jennifer Garner’s Alias and the current KGB-themed The Americans.
Aronofsky, the prolific filmmaker behind Pi and Requiem for a Dream, earned an Academy Award nomination for Black Swan, which also netted lead actress Natalie Portman to a statue. His next film to hit theaters will be the big biblical spectacle Noah, which stars Russell Crowe as the titular builder of the Ark, and co-stars Jennifer Connelly (reunited with her Requiem director), Anthony Hopkins, Emma Watson, and Logan Lerman (together again after the winning teen comedy The Perks of Being a Wallflower.) Noah is slated to be released March 28, 2014 by Paramount Pictures.
If the thought of Aronofsky taking command of an espionage thriller is exciting, one must remember that this is still in the tentative, nearly rumor mill stages, and the filmmaker has had a previous reputation for jumping ship. He was once lined up to direct this summer’s The Wolverine, as well as the upcoming Robo-cop reboot. Aronofsky has also expressed interest in a long gestating George Washington period drama The General, which reportedly has had the filmmaker attached for over a year now. Either way, Steven Zailian and Garrett Basch are on board as producers.