It was announced this week that Oscar-winning film director/screenwriter, Sofia Coppola will be directing a live-action adaptation of Hans Christian Andersen’s The Little Mermaid. With her knack for capturing the freedom and beauty of youth through a dream-like haze of whimsy, Ms. Coppola will undoubtedly knock this one out of the park. I couldn’t help but create a wish list of other adaptations I’d like to see through the eyes of this fabulous director.
1. The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides
Sofia Coppola’s first major film was an adaptation of Jeffrey Eugenides’ novel, The Virgin Suicides. Coppola did a wonderful job of staying true to Eugenides’ novel, drawing her audience into the mystery of the Lisbon sisters. It’s only natural that she and Eugenides team up for another film. The Marriage Plot centers around Madeliene, Mitchell, and Leonard; three college students in pursuit of higher education, happiness, and the meaning of life, all in the midst of a love triangle. Heavy stuff; but nothing Coppola can’t handle.
In the novel, Mitchell travels to Europe and India to seek out sanctity. In Lost in Translation, Coppola flawlessly depicted the futuristic magnificence of Tokyo. I’d love to see her give Europe and India the same treatment.
2. Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald by Therese Anne Fowler
Zelda Fitzgerald, wife of The Great Gatsby author F. Scott Fitzgerald, lived the glamorous life of an It-girl in the 1920’s. In her novelization of Zelda’s life, Therese Anne Fowler tells the story of a spunky, Southern-girl turned into a sassy flapper who is determined to make a name for herself as an artist and not just as an author’s wife.
Just like Sofia Coppola exhibited the riches of a young Queen of France in Marie Antoinette and the bling-bling of Paris Hilton in The Bling Ring, it would be a treat to see the same done with the opulent fashions of the 1920’s.
3. “Friends Without Benefits” by Nancy Jo Sales, Vanity Fair, September 26, 2013
Speaking of The Bling Ring, true Sofia Coppola devotees know that her latest film was based on a true story and inspired by a Vanity Fair article written by Nancy Jo Sales (above). The article, titled “The Suspect Wore Louboutins,” explored the life of Alexis Neiers who, along with several teenage accomplices, was convicted of robbing the homes of Hollywood starlets like Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan. In one of her more recent articles, “Friends Without Benefits,” Sales exposes the struggles that teenage girls face when trying to make true and lasting romantic connections through social networking sites, like Facebook; and smartphone apps, like Tinder.
The story of teenage girls in search of connecting with someone on a deep level but having to do so through the vast and creep-ridden interwebs? Cue a montage of lonely girls pensively staring out of car windows.
4. Eurydice by Sarah Ruhl
Written originally for the stage, Sarah Ruhl’s play is a retelling of the myth of Orpheus through the eyes of his wife, Eurydice. Full of rich music, poetic dialogue, and playful imagery, the play centers around Eurydice and her struggle between choosing to stay in the underworld with her loving father or following her rockstar husband back to the land of the living. Similar to Eurydice, Sofia Coppola also has a rockstar husband: Phoenix frontman, Thomas Mars. The couple met while working on the soundtrack to The Virgin Suicides and Sofia recently directed the music video for Phoenix’s song, “Chloroform.”
The couple also collaborated on the score for Sofia’s film, Somewhere, adding to the sweetness of the moments between Cleo (Elle Fanning), and her distant but loving father (Stephen Dorff). If a film adaptation of Eurydice was ever produced, it would need someone with tenderness and strong musical intuition at the helm; a perfect job for Sofia and her husband.
5. Just Kids by Patti Smith
In her 2010 memoir, Just Kids, singer-songwriter Patti Smith describes her relationship and lifelong friendship with photographer Robert Mapplethorpe. The book explores their romance and shared determination to become artists in New York City in the late 60’s. In both The Virgin Suicides and Marie Antoinette, Coppola demonstrates the bittersweetness of nostalgia and the sentiment we attach to objects of the past because of the memories they evoke. In The Virgin Suicides it was the Lisbon sister’s trinkets collected by their obsessed counterparts. In Marie Antoinette, it was the Queen’s demolished bedroom in which she spent countless mornings getting dressed in an elaborate fashion before members of her court.
In 1989, Mapplethorpe died of AIDS. Just Kids is a poignant eulogy written to preserve the memories of a friendship unlike any other. Smith’s abundance of stories and anecdotes combined with Coppola’s ability to convey a longing for the past would make this film a must-see.