George Nolfi rose to prominence as a screenwriter with his contributions to the scripts for Steven Soderbergh’s Ocean’s Twelve and Paul Greengrass’ The Bourne Ultimatum. He thereafter went solo and established himself as an equally-capable writer/director with his Philip K. Dick story adaptation The Adjustment Bureau (starring Matt Damon and Emily Blunt).
Nolfi was recently a contender to helm Marvel’s Captain America 2 (subtitled The Winter Soldier) and supervised the script revision on Arnold Schwarzenegger’s comeback vehicle, The Last Stand. However, his sophomore directing effort looks to be another project entirely, titled XOXO.
Variety says the social media thriller was written as a spec by Black Swan co-writer Mark Heyman, who is now reworking his initial script draft under Nolfi’s supervision. Story-wise, the project is being referred to as Fatal Attraction for the digital age, as it follows an engaged executive who begins a virtual relationship with a mysterious woman on Facebook – only for things to turn dangerous when “the Internet romance begins seeping into the protag’s actual life in a deadly way.”
XOXO begs comparisons to the (faux?) doc Catfish, as well as the thriller Hard Candy. The latter not only offers a clever inversion of the predator-prey dynamic from the Red Riding Hood fairy tale, but also the stereotypical nightmare scenario for parents whose children converse with strangers online. Heyman’s script, by comparison, reads as taking a more conventional approach to exploiting paranoia about misrepresentative digital identities.
On the other hand, XOXO stands apart as a unique thriller since a healthy chunk of the “action” in Heyman’s script boils down to computer-based interactions. It’s for that reason Lionsgate has plans to liven things up by having Nolfi create “stylized visual sequences” for the scenes set online. David Fincher ably managed a similar task in The Social Network, so perhaps Nolfi will emulate his technique.
Black Swan director Darren Aronofsky is onboard to produce XOXO through his Protozoa Pictures, along with Groundswell Prods’ Michael London (Sideways) and Kelly Mullen (All Good Things, Win Win). When you consider the accomplished names working behind the scenes on XOXO alone, the film is already worthy of attention (despite only being in the pre-production stage of development).
While Nolfi is attached to helm XOXO at some point in the future, there is not yet a tentative timeline for when that might happen (at least, not officially). We will keep you posted as the story develops.