Some film projects just appeal to you on a personal, spiritual level. For me, this is one of those jams. Annie Clark, better known as her stage name as musician St. Vincent, is set to direct an adaptation of The Picture of Dorian Gray for Lionsgate. But that’s just the start of the good news. The script will come from Elle screenwriter David Birke, who is also set to pen Screen Gems’ upcoming Slender Man movie, and they’ll be putting a twist on Oscar Wilde‘s classic Victorian novel by gender-swapping the titular lead character.
The first and only novel from the prolific Irish writer behind The Importance of Being Ernest, Salome, and no less than three of your favorite witticisms, The Picture of Dorian Gray follows a beautiful young man concerned with little more than the pleasures of hedonism who sells his soul to retain his youth and beauty. The libertine commissions a portrait that captures his preternatural beauty, and while he never ages a day as he continues his self-indulgent ways through the years, his portrait ages in his stead, revealing every vice and depravity he indulges along the way.
Clark made her directorial debut earlier this year with the female-driven horror anthology The XX, for which she helmed the film’s most offbeat piece — a candy-colored suburban nightmare starring Melanie Lynskey that skirted the lines of the horror label. She showed off a visual acumen as a filmmaker and a refreshing, fluid approach to genre, both of which would suit an update of Wilde’s oft-adapted tale. More interesting is the gender swap and what commentary the film could reap from it. As it was, Wilde’s piece was a bit of an inversion on the more conventional Elizabeth Bathory/Evil Queen female tropes of beauty-obsessed villainy. Now, centuries later when both sides of the coin have been so well explored, I’m curious if they can find something new to say. I’m also very, very curious who they’ll cast in the role of the lady libertine.