Despite being on the cusp of pulling off that rare two-films-in-two-years trick — even though, okay, I kind of forgot Mud played at Cannes — Jeff Nichols is already working toward his fourth project. One we’ve never heard of, too.
There was word, back in September, that he had signed a deal with the fresh-faced Candescent Films to develop a journalism drama, Native; while that might still be chugging along, it’s now said that he’s come under the employment of 20th Century Fox and Chernin Entertainment to craft a true-life drama, entitled The Boy who Played with Fusion.
And, no, it’s not another Stieg Larsson adaptation.
This new project, rather — adapted from a Popular Science piece — primarily follows Taylor Wilson, an “exceptionally smart and curious” 14-year-old Arkansas boy who created nuclear fusion for a good cause. Although he’d always held an interest in science, his grandmother’s development of cancer lead Taylor on a quest to form isotopes that combat and destroy the disease’s cells, which, eventually, he also decided to make “an alarm system to root out dirty bombs in shipping containers.”
I say “primarily,” however, because Fusion also puts its focus on “another braniac,” one who decided to use his own skills as the means of constructing a breeder reactor; it contaminated his home and was soon taken away. He’s the other side of the coin, etc.
But it mostly sounds like a feel-good story about a well-to-do kid who wants to make a difference. Not the kind I would expect to hear Jeff Nichols is telling — Shotgun Stories and Take Shelter are both rather dark stories of crumbling men — but if he can do that well, Fusion is the chance for him to fully expand his horizons. (Maybe Mud is even that, for all I know.) It might sound wishy-washy, but, with him working at the helm, I can lend some trust for now.
Does Fusion sound like the right sort of project for Nichols’ sensibilities?
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