It’s a story as old as time itself: You hear that Jeff Bridges is set to star in a film called The Emperor’s Children. Given the title, and his recent history of starring in misbegotten fantasy-laden YA adaptations, you start to make all sorts of snide comments about how the only things the Dude seems to abide these days are shitty kids’ movies. Next thing you know, your more literate friend pulls you aside and points out The Emperor’s Children is actually a widely successful and critically acclaimed novel from 2006. Which you would have known, had you stopped playing video games and actually focused on your studies like your mom asked you to. Now who’s not tying the room together?
The Hollywood Reporter’s news that Bridges will be playing the lead in an adaptation of Claire Messud’s bestselling novel actually contains all sorts of promising information about the project. For starters, it’s got superb source material. (The A. V. Club loved it.) Even better, it features a script from Noah Baumbach, telling the story of Murray Thwaite (Bridges), a famous journalist and liberal opinion-maker. The film details Thwaite’s confusing life, “exposing the ambition and pride of his family and friends, and his entanglement with his daughter’s best friend, all in the days leading up to 9/11.” Normally, films exploiting 9/11 for dramatic effect are a warning, not an attraction, but hopefully we’ve all learned something from Extremely Loud And Incredibly Close besides never to watch that movie again.
Lastly, The Emperor’s Children will be directed by Lake Bell, whose debut film In A World… was charming yet uneven, but hinted at great potential. So, to sum up: a return to adult drama for Bridges, written and directed by very talented people, based on a great book. This has the possibility to even make us forget about R.I.P.D.