Helena Bonham Carter will star in the film adaptation of “The Offing,” the bestselling novel by Benjamin Myers, a poignant tale of an unlikely friendship. Jessica Hobbs, who won an Emmy for “The Crown,” will direct the period drama, with Bonham Carter serving as executive producer. Beta Cinema is kicking off pre-sales at the Berlin Film Festival.
The film is set in North-East England shortly after World War II. It opens on Robert, 16, the shy, nature-loving son of a miner, who sets out to see a little more of the world before he follows his father down the pit. He gets as far as Dulcie (Bonham Carter), a hard drinking, foul-mouthed, bohemian recluse several times his age.
Under her eccentric tutelage, his life opens up to food, girls, and the transformative beauty of poetry as Dulcie recognizes a potential in Robert that he doesn’t yet see in himself.
But while Dulcie’s cottage and garden by the sea are idyllic, this place holds a tragic secret about Dulcie’s great love. When Robert discovers the truth, his brave and tender friendship compels Dulcie to open her own heart and re-engage with the world.
“The Offing” is produced by Charlotte Walls and Emily Barttelot at Catalyst Global Media (“Finding Your Feet,” “Ghost Stories”), who developed the film with support from Beta Cinema. Amy Roberts (“The Winter King,” “Call the Midwife,” “Shameless”) is writing the screenplay. Shooting is lined up for later this year.
Hobbs won the Emmy for Outstanding Directing for a Drama Series for “The Crown.” She has directed three seasons of the Netflix series, working with Bonham Carter on two of them. Other work includes Abi Morgan’s “The Split” and “River,” psychological thriller “Apple Tree Yard,” “Broadchurch” and “The Slap.” She is in production on miniseries “The Palace,” starring Kate Winslet and Hugh Grant for HBO.
Bonham Carter said: “From the beginning I wanted Jessica Hobbs on board. She is so brilliant with character and rigorous about being authentic with following the psychological and emotional story. If we can succeed in capturing an iota of Benjamin Myers’ novel the film will be beautiful and a life enhancer. In Jessica’s hands I have little doubt we will.”
Hobbs said: “When I first read the book, Helena Bonham Carter was immediately vividly present as Dulcie. She is so unapologetically, joyously, who she is, as is Dulcie. What the film ultimately delivers is a deep and timely meditation on the power of friendship, of creativity, of healing in the most unexpected of ways.”
Walls said: “Both timely and timeless ‘The Offing’ is a contemporary, cinematic proposition in the hands of a formidable female team. The bittersweet humanity that runs throughout Ben’s writing, and the electrifying connection between two outsiders is a riotous, joyous call to action for us all.”
Tassilo Hallbauer, Beta Cinema’s head of sales and acquisitions, said: “We immediately felt very strongly about this very modern, warm-hearted and funny take on a period drama. The characters, the language, the unapologetic nature of our heroine, make this film vastly contemporary and relevant. ‘The Offing’ is incredibly charming, extremely entertaining and truly uplifting – exactly what audiences around the world want to see right now.”