Way, way back in the mists of time, when Brad Pitt was married to Jennifer Aniston and his Plan B shingle at Warner Bros. was yet to be given an official name, he optioned the rights to Mark Haddon‘s novel The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time. I believe it was 2002, the year before the book was published.
Haddon tells a most ingenious detective story, and does so from the point of view of a fifteen year old boy who is apparently afflicted with asperger syndrome. It’s a clever explosion of the typical mystery plot, like a Holmes or Poirot, in which the audience is often able to put clues together before the protagonist. In Haddon’s novel the emotional truth of several situations screams out at us from the page, giving us a perspective on the sad situation our narrator finds so confusing and mysterious.
It seems like a very hard book to adapt to the screen as the basic nature of first person narration on the page is a good part of what makes the book so special, and in ways peculiar to the written word. The notion of the “unreliable narrator” is a popular and oft-discussed one in cinema, but this story requires a particular form of unreliability that was tied beautifully into the novel’s form.
So adapting this will be a tough gig. Who’s got it?
Back when the book was first optioned it was set that Steve Kloves, screenwriter of all-but-one Harry Potter films and writer-director of Flesh and Bone and The Fabulous Baker Boys, would script and direct the adaptation. Almost a decade on, and it seems like Kloves is still the man holding the pen.
Here’s an excerpt from a new interview with Kloves in the magazine Written By:
I wish him the best in this very difficult task. Hopefully a near-decade of perspective will have helped him unlock an appropriate approach. I’d guess that this film will require quite a lot of voice over narration, and much of it used to fog, if not flat-out disguise, what it is we’re actually seeing on screen. I’ll be fascinated to see how the film actually ends up.
Incidentally, back in ’02, Harry Potter honcho David Heyman was working with Pitt and the nascent Plan B to produce this film. That too seems to be unchanged, at least according to the pretty-reliable Baseline Studio Systems.