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James Gray Announces New Title for Joaquin Phoenix Drama as Footage Debuts

Posted by , on September 3, 2012 at 11:00 am 

Considering how often it’s covered around here, you figure we’d already have a title for James Gray‘s newest film. (One which stars Marion Cotillard, Joaquin Phoenix, and Jeremy Renner, in case you needed to build anticipation.) It’s only now, however, that we can break away from the former moniker of Low Life and embrace its new name: Nightingale. This passerine labeling can’t be accounted for with whatever information’s currently in our sight, but the writer-director says a change was necessary since, strangely enough, “the author of the novel threatened to sue me.”

Gray announced all this at Telluride’s tribute to Cotillard, whereat he also took time to show footage from the 2013 picture. ThePlaylist tell us this scene, an early one, wasn’t a huge section — around five minutes, give or take — and “not completely color timed yet,” but what was there still managed to impress. For one thing, the work of cinematographer Darius Khondji was acclaimed for its moody atmosphere; a mixture of strong art direction and “solemn religious iconography” sweetened things up and sealed the deal.

In it, Cotillard‘s character, Sonya, has a weepy confession inside a church, saying she’s ashamed for her “crimes” — among them, being raped, stealing, and acting as a prostitute to support her ill sister. Sonya briefly describes her time on the ship from Poland to ’20s New York, revealing that her rape leaves her as, in her own view, worthless and technically permitted to turn tricks. Phoenix briefly makes an appearance, too, listening to her conversation with God, though that seems to be the extent of his appearance here.

It’s difficult to get a real grip on the film from that much — probably even if you saw the five minutes yourself — but this much is a good little peek before it comes out. That might take a while, by the way, as The Weinstein Company aren’t expected to put this out until 2013 — and probably not until the year’s second half. Hang tight, because I think this might end up being worth that much.

Does Nightingale satisfy as a title? Is there a good chance it will satisfy as a film?


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