Debra Granik’s Obsession With Bones to Continue With ‘Rule of the Bone’

A months old interview that The Calgary Herald did with author Russell Banks is getting some new attention today, because The Playlist found a nugget of exciting movie news in it that has generally flown under everyone’s radar. Apparently Banks’ novel “Rule of the Bone” is ready to be adapted into a film, and will be directed by a name who’s recently become hot in Hollywood, Debra Granik. If you can remember back all the way to 2010, Granik directed Winter’s Bone, a Sundance film that got nominated for a lot of awards, put on a lot of year-end lists, and immediately launched the career of new it-girl actress Jennifer Lawrence. It was also my favorite film of last year, so this news of Granik’s next work has me feeling pretty jazzed.

As a strange bit of trivia, this will be Granik’s third movie in a row that has the word “bone” in the title. She proceeded last year’s Winter’s Bone, a story about Ozark Mountain meth-heads, with 2004’s Down to the Bone, which starred Vera Farmiga as a drug-addicted housewife.

So what’s this novel that Banks wrote about? Drugs. I think I sense a pattern forming.  The book’s Amazon description introduces it like this:

“When we first meet him, Chappie is a punked-out teenager living with his mother and abusive stepfather in an upstate New York trailer park. During this time, he slips into drugs and petty crime. Rejected by his parents, out of school and in trouble with the police, he claims for himself a new identity as a permanent outsider; he gets a crossed-bones tattoo on his arm, and takes the name ‘Bone.’”

They say the word bone a lot in that description, sounds perfect for Granik. I wonder if her favorite TV show is Bones? Anyway, the subject matter sounds like a perfect fit with her eye for gritty realism as well. And gritty and real this movie should be, because it doesn’t seem like we have to worry about some Hollywood bigwig stepping in and making her cast one of Will Smith’s kids as the lead or something.

In addition to being the author of the source material, Banks is also serving as an executive producer on the film, and from some comments he made back in that Calgary Herald article, it’s clear that he’s taking a hands-on approach to putting this one together. As far as the casting of the character of Bone goes, he said, “We’re probably going to cast an unknown in the lead and then cast around him. When we get Bone cast, then we’ll work around him and have better-known actors, recognizable faces around him. We’ll be shooting it in Upstate New York and Jamaica.” All the right elements are lining up for this project to be one to watch.

Weaned on the genre films of the 80s. Reared by the independent movement of the 90s. Earned a BA for writing stuff in the 00s. Reviews current releases at

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