Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

The Russos and the Obamas team up for Exit West adaptation with Riz Ahmed

Illustration for article titled The Russos and the Obamas team up for iExit West /iadaptation with Riz Ahmed
Photo: Matt McClain/The Washington Post (Getty Images)

Two certifiable Hollywood power duos are teaming up tonight, as Deadline reports that Joe and Anthony Russo and Barack and Michelle Obama are apparently getting together to discuss how fun it was controlling the fates of millions of people, and also to make a new film with Riz Ahmed. Specifically, the two pairings have come together for an adaptation of Mohsin Hamid’s novel Exit West, which the Russos acquired the film rights to back in 2017, and which the former POTUS put on his regular best books of the year list that same year. 

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Hamid’s novel marries the dangers and trials of real-world refugees with a heavy dose of magical realism, tracking the lives of couple Saeed and Nadia as they flee through a series of magical doors to locations around the world, seeking a place willing to offer them a chance at a better life. The duo face violence, xenophobia, racism, and more, as they jump from tent cities in Greece, to indentured servitude in London, and beyond. The novel was short-listed for the Booker Prize For Fiction the year it was published, and was heralded for its mixture of light fantastical elements and much more pressing worries.

Ahmed—fresh off co-writing and starring in current festival selection Mogul Mowgli (to say nothing of his performance as goo-covered Elon Musk-type Carlton Drake in Venom)—would play Saeed, lending some of his up-and-coming star power to these plucky little producers. The Obamas are recent entrants to the film business, of course, having won a Best Documentary Oscar this year for their production work on American Factory. The Russos, meanwhile, are coming off of literally one of the most successful runs of movies in film history; they’re currently working with Tom Holland on the crime thriller Cherry, as they attempt to avoid the ignoble spectacle of Dolittle-ing themselves on the world stage. (And yes, that’s what we’re calling it.)

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So: One of Hollywood’s most interesting stars is working with two of its most successful directors, plus two of the world’s most well-known public figures, to adapt a book that was widely beloved by everyone who put their hands on it. This thing is doomed, right? Is it just us? There’s too much good here. This thing is totally doomed.

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