Award-winning production designer-turned director Catherine Hardwicke emerged as an auteur with her critically-acclaimed examination of female adolescence in Thirteen, and now a decade later she’s found greater financial success (if also more critical backlash) for bringing Stephenie Meyer’s first Twilight installment to the big screen. Hardwicke is returning to the YA fantasy literature genre once again, as she has been set to adapt Karen Thompson Walker’s best-selling debut novel The Age of Miracles.
According to Deadline, which has the exclusive on this story, Hardwicke has been set to adapt Age of Miracles by River Road Entertainment executive and Oscar-nominated producer Bill Pohlad (Brokeback Mountain, The Tree of Life). Walker’s novel is told from the perspective of a 10-year old girl named Julia, whose world is deteriorating before her very eyes both literally (the Earth’s rotation is slowing to a halt) and figuratively (her parents are on the verge of divorce).
The filmmaker was lined up to adapt a very different YA book sensation two years ago, in the shape of James Dashner’s The Maze Runner. However, she passed on the project in favor of an original thriller that falls more in her jurisdiction, titled Plush – which is about a troubled young woman with extraordinary abilities – and based on a script co-written by Hardwicke, with Emily Browning (Sucker Punch) as the female lead. This all comes a fews years after her sexually-charged, yet lackluster Red Riding Hood retelling and Hardwicke directing the episode “Scabs” on AMC’s grisly western drama series Hell on Wheels.
Hardwicke will direct Age of Miracles from an adapted screenplay written by Seth Lockhead, who re-purposed the traditional princess fairy tale and coming of age parable as an espionage thriller with his script for the critically-acclaimed Hanna starring Saoirse Ronan. Coincidentally, the structure and themes of Walker’s Age of Miracles novel have prompted comparisons to Alice Sebold’s book The Lovely Bones (which Peter Jackson adapted into a movie starring Ronan).
Twilight and Red Riding Hood strike me as films where Hardwicke’s background in visual design – and knowledge about how to use “everything within the frame” to give a story deeper meaning – were not enough to compensate for, respectively, either Meyer’s weak source material or David Johnson’s unfocused script (see: my fairy tale movie op-ed, for more on that). Age of Miracles does risk coming off as ham-fisted (given the not at all subtle metaphor in Walker’s story), but the combination of Lockhead’s writing and Hardwicke’s genuine empathy for the plight of young women could be enough to make this YA adaptation more worthwhile than the director’s recent offerings.
Those who haven’t already, should check out Hardwicke’s lesser-seen films Lords of Dogtown and The Nativity Story, as further proof that Twilight isn’t the best measurement of her storytelling abilities.
We’ll keep you posted on The Age of Miracles as more information becomes available.