Luca Guadagnino, currently drumming up Oscar buzz for the ravishing “Call Me by Your Name,” will direct Jennifer Lawrence in “Burial Rites,” Variety has learned. Lawrence will produce, as well as star in the true-crime drama. TriStar Pictures, a division of Sony Pictures, has worldwide rights to the picture.
The film draws on Hannah Kent’s 2013 novel of the same name, and centers on Agnes Magnusdottir (Lawrence), the last woman to be publicly executed in Iceland in 1830. Agnes was sentenced to death for killing two men and setting fire to their home. The story takes place as Agnes awaits confirmation of her death sentence by the high court, a period of time that finds her reluctantly forging emotional and romantic bonds, while reflecting on her supposed crimes.
In addition to “Call Me by Your Name,” a romantic drama that’s received critical raves and just picked up three Golden Globe nominations, Guadagnino directed “A Bigger Splash” and “I Am Love.” His upcoming projects include a remake of the horror classic “Suspiria” and “Rio,” a thriller with Benedict Cumberbatch and Jake Gyllenhaal.
Lawrence is an Oscar winner for her work in “Silver Linings Playbook.” Her upcoming films include the spy thriller “Red Sparrow” and “X-Men: Dark Phoenix,” which finds her returning to her role as the shape-shifting mutant Mystique.
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Allison Shearmur, an executive who oversaw development and production of “The Hunger Games” at Lionsgate, and Justine Ciarrocchi will produce with Lawrence. Shearmur most recently produced “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” and is also producing the upcoming “Solo: A Star Wars Story.”
Gary Ross and Jerry Kalajian will executive produce. At one point, it had looked like Ross would direct the film, potentially reuniting him with Lawrence, the star of “The Hunger Games.” An earlier iteration of the project had been set up at Lionsgate. TriStar president Hannah Minghella and Shary Shirazi, a creative executive, will oversee the production for TriStar Pictures.
“Luca is a rare talent. His movies capture an exquisite sense of place inextricably linked to the emotional state of the complex characters he creates,” Minghella said in a statement. “I can’t imagine a more thrilling partnership than Luca and Jennifer coming together to bring Agnes’ beautiful and tragic story to life.”
“Luca Guadagnino is a masterful storyteller who brilliantly captures the nuance of the human condition in his films. I cannot wait for him to bring his original voice to the raw, visceral brutality, and poetry of Hannah Kent’s haunting true story of Agnes Magnúsdóttir, the last woman to be publicly executed in Iceland for the murder of two men,” Shearmur said in a statement. “Jennifer Lawrence, Justine Ciarrocchi, and I love this project and we could not be more excited by the way it is coming together with Hannah Minghella’s passion and drive to get it done at TriStar.”
Jennifer Lawrence is represented by CAA. Guadagnino is represented by WME.