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Jennifer Lawrence Will Star in Luca Guadagnino’s ‘Burial Rites’

Audiences can likely expect eerie psychological intimacy from the pair’s public execution drama.
Jennifer Lawrence Mockingjay Pt
By  · Published on December 13th, 2017

Audiences can likely expect eerie psychological intimacy from the pair’s public execution drama.

Awards season is the best time of the year to figure out which filmmakers to keep watching after the buzz is over, and of course Luca Guadagnino won’t soon be forgotten. Call Me By Your Name has received so much critical acclaim, and Guadagnino himself is keeping busy. Variety has the latest on his activities, specifically that he’ll direct Jennifer Lawrence in his next film.

Titled Burial Rites, Guadagnino and Lawrence will team up for an adaptation of the eponymous 2013 novel by Hannah Kent. Lawrence will play Agnes Magnusdottir, the last woman to be publicly executed in Iceland. The film will take place in 1830, during which Agnes, a servant, was sentenced to death for killing two men (one of whom was her employer) and setting fire to their home. As Agnes awaits confirmation of her sentence and mulls over her actions, she forms platonic and romantic relationships with the people around her. Overall, it seems like dramatic heartbreak waiting to happen.

Burial Rites is actually based on the true story of the last public execution in Iceland, wherein — according to a book review by the Guardian — “a man and a woman were beheaded for a murder committed on a remote farm.” Much myth and mystery surround this brutal, isolated point in Iceland’s history, with it also being immortalized in the National Museum in Reykjavik but not much else.

It’s the kind of story that fits Guadagnino’s aesthetic. With recent films like A Bigger Splash and Call Me By Your Name — which storylines occur in small pockets of communities — Burial Rites sounds like a project that will take those themes to the next level. Of course, Guadagnino may also explore something similar in his version of Suspiria, which he has declared will be far more personal than Dario Argento’s original film. “When I saw the original movie thirty-two years ago, the emotion I felt was so strong, so mind-blowing, and so important to my upbringing,” said Guadagnino. “I wanted to investigate the experience I had watching that film.”

“Luca Guadagnino is a masterful storyteller who brilliantly captures the nuance of the human condition in his films. I cannot wait for him to bring his original voice to the raw, visceral brutality, and poetry of Hannah Kent’s haunting true story of Agnes Magnúsdóttir,” said Burial Rites producer Allison Shearmur.

Lawrence has herself played conflicted women in the past. Playing young women in the line of fire such as Katniss Everdeen in The Hunger Games saga and even in earlier films like Winter’s Bone would have adequately prepped her for a role like Agnes. She has had a mostly quiet 2017 now that Darren Aronofksy’s mother! has kind of fallen off the radar, but it was certainly one of the more controversial movies to come out this year (and indeed, of Aronofsky’s career). Although keeping in her blockbuster successes for 2018, Lawrence is also clearly stepping out of her comfort zone, going arthouse without scrimping on finding the best in big-name, non-commercial directors.

Besides Suspiria, Guadagnino is also working on Rio, a thriller starring Jake Gyllenhaal and Benedict Cumberbatch. Lawrence’s next projects reunite her with Hunger Games director Francis Lawrence in the Black Widow-esque spy thriller, Red Sparrow, as well as see her return to the X-Men universe in Dark Phoenix.

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Sheryl Oh often finds herself fascinated (and let's be real, a little obsessed) with actors and their onscreen accomplishments, developing Film School Rejects' Filmographies column as a passion project. She's not very good at Twitter but find her at @sherhorowitz anyway. (She/Her)