Deadline reports that James Ivory, the 89-year-old Oscar-winning screenwriter of Call Me By Your Name, will write the script for Alexander Payne‘s upcoming film The Judge’s Will. Ivory will adapt the script from an article in the New Yorker that was written by his frequent partner Ruth Prawer Jhabvala, who concocted scripts for twenty-three movies that Ivory directed in his younger days. The Judge’s Will is the final article written by Jhabvala, who died in 2013. The article was first published in March of 2013, and Fox Searchlight scooped up the film rights shortly thereafter.
The article describes the relationship between a dying Delhi judge and his wife, who essentially live their lives apart even though they co-exist under the same roof. The judge has had multiple heart attacks, and he feels that he must reveal the contents of his will to his wife before his failing health gets the best of him. The judge mainly wants to ensure that his younger mistress is cared for and not cast out in the event of his death.
Payne presented the idea of moving the setting of the film from India to Chicago, and Ivory embraced it. “It’s a universal enough premise, the business of a wealthy man having a mistress and wanting to take care of her after he dies,” Ivory told Deadline. “You feel her influence, her way of thinking about people and relationships. There were people she wasn’t fond of when she met them, and in time grew to like them very much and she didn’t hold on to her dislikes. The family, needing to take care of the mistress, to worry about her, that seems a very Ruth way of looking at things.”
Ivory will attempt to finish the script by the end of the year. Jeremy Steckler and Dawn Ostroff from Conde Nast Entertainment will produce the film, along with Payne’s Ad Hominem Enterprises.