Neil LaBute (In the Company of Men; most recently, Death at a Funeral) published a short-story compilation back in 2004 entitled Seconds of Pleasure. (Check it out over at Amazon by clicking here.) And since the publication, he’s been hard at work adapting the collection into a film, because Mike Figgis (Oscar-nominated for Leaving Las Vegas) has been brought on to direct the “ensemble drama,” which will star Matt Dillon, Julia Stiles, Brendan Fraser, Kristin Scott Thomas (Sarah’s Key), and Christina Hendricks (Drive). [THR]

Myriad Pictures has attained the global rights, excluding the U.K, to the film. LaBute‘s screenplay is said to “weave together several separate but intertwined stories about six different couples,” and has been described by various contributors to the film’s construction — namely STV Productions’ Margaret Enefer and Myriad Pictures CEO Kirk D’Amico — as “incredibly candid,” “blazingly witty,” and “razor-sharp.”

Though LaBute is certainly capable of such work, his most recent cinematic work — I can’t speak for his literary endeavor — has felt lagging and derivative. The Wicker Man, as proven in the now-infamous Nicolas Cage blow-up montage, was nothing if not a joke of a remake, and Lakeview Terrace, though containing some considerably good performances (Samuel L. Jackson at his most charismatic, as well as the always reliable Patrick Wilson and Kerry Washington), was nevertheless a distinctly formula-driven neighborhood thriller.

At the very least, though, Seconds of Pleasure sounds decidedly unformulaic, so thumbs up to LaBute for tackling the challenge. And it’s a welcome sight to see Figgis once again working within the framework of narrative filmmaking — if you haven’t seen Leaving Las Vegas in a while, revisit it sometime soon. It’s paralyzingly good.

Have you read LaBute’s short-story collection? If so, do you think it will transfer smoothly to the screen?

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