Having written and directed last year’s film adaptation of Don DeLillo’s novel “Cosmopolis,” David Cronenberg will now act in a movie based on the author’s novella “The Body Artist.” It will be renamed “Body Art” and directed by Luca Guadagnino, best known outside Italy for his Visconti-esque haute-bourgeois tragedy “I Am Love” (2009).
Although it hasn’t been announced officially, Cronenberg’s role will be that of Rey Robles, a 64-year-old film director who commits suicide, leaving his wife, the performance artist Lauren Hartke (Isabelle Huppert), to grieve over him.
On the verge of losing her mind, Lauren attempts to achieve catharsis by literally shedding her skin and reconstructing herself completely on stage. One suspects that the intimations of “body horror” and Lauren’s desperate exposing of herself to technology, which promises comfort but dehumanizes the user, were major factors in Cronenberg’s decision to re-enter DeLillo’s world.
Also in the cast is Denis Lavant (himself ready to shape-shift again after his multifaceted performance in “Holy Motors”). He plays a ghostly presence whom Lauren finds in an empty room in her house and names “Mr. Tuttle,” after a high-school teacher. He can speak in both Lauren and Rey’s voices, and she concludes that he exists beyond time – he is evidently a metaphor for its mutability. Lauren herself attempts to break time’s tyrannical structuring of life.
Sigourney Weaver will have a more grounded role as a journalist. She told Women’s Wear Daily that she and Huppert will be dressed for the film by Raf Simons, the artistic director of Dior. Simons also created Tilda Swinton’s supremely elegant Jil Sander costumes for “I Am Love,” which helped earn costume designer Antonello Cannarozzi an Oscar nomination.
According to Cineeuropa.org, international rights to “Body Art” will be sold at the European Film Market of the Berlinale, which starts February 7. The production-distribution company behind the project, France’s Alfama Films, also made “Cosmopolis.” Among the other films it’s taking to Berlin are the Casanova opera-piece “The Giacomo Variations,” starring John Malkovich, reported here by ARTINFO, and Fanny Ardant’s marital drama “Cadences obstinées.” It stars Asia Argento, Nuno Lopes, and Ardant’s old friend and Russia’s new star, Gérard Depardieu.