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Jeff Nichols Developing ‘The Boy who Played with Fusion’

Written by on July 30, 2012 

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 CannesJeff 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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