When Robert De Niro earned a Best Supporting Actor Oscar nomination for his thoughtfully nuanced semi-comic turn in David O. Russell’s 2012 comedy Silver Linings Playbook, it read as a small return to form for the actor whose magnetism once blazed the screen. To say the last few decades have seen a shortage of memorable De Niro characterizations may be a bit hyperbolic, but then again most performers never portrayed Vito Corleone, Travis Bickle and Jake La Motta. With that in mind, it comes with a degree of excitement that De Niro appears set to star in the next feature from critically admired French director Olivier Assayas – a heist thriller titled Idol’s Eye.
Assayas may not be exactly a household name, but he’s one of the most exciting filmmakers on the international circuit and has in the past been known to shake even to most familiar of actors in fascinating ways in his films. Assayas is also a regular mainstay at the Cannes Film Festival, where as it happens, he just premiered his latest feature Clouds of Sils Maria, a drama that earned strong reviews for cast members Juliette Binoche and Twilight star Kristen Stewart. His prior films include the family drama Summer Hours (which also featured Binoche), the recovery drama Clean (which starred Assayas’ former wife Maggie Cheung in a performance that won the Best Actress prize at Cannes in 2004), the trippy corporate thriller Demonlover (which starred Connie Nielsen and Chloe Sevigny) and the highly acclaimed television mini-series Carlos (which won the Golden Globe for Best Mini-Series or Movie in 2011.)
While plot details on Idol’s Eye are being kept under wraps, it should be interesting to see if Assayas can shake such a mammoth performer like De Niro out of his comfort zone. At the very least the results should offer a bit more than recent De Niro output like Grudge Match or The Big Wedding, two of many under-performing movies that have peppered the legend’s filmography in recent years. Idol’s Eye will also star Robert Pattinson, who like his Twilight co-star Stewart, appears to be more interested in finding curious art house puzzles after the establishing blockbuster cred with the young adult franchise. The film is set to start shooting this October in Chicago and Toronto. De Niro will next appear in Hands of Stone, a biopic of boxer Roberto Duran and the thriller Bus 757 – both of which are slated for release in 2015.