After progressing from the critically reviled Paranoia to acclaimed war biopic American Sniper, for which he earned a Best Adapted Screenplay nod, scribe Jason Hall is moving further up into the big leagues. After penning a draft for PTSD-centric drama Thank You For Your Service, Hall has also become attached to helm the pic in what will be his directorial debut.
Steven Spielberg was previously poised to direct the adaptation of David Finkel’s non-fiction book about veterans struggling with ordinary life after serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, but it appears that the helmer’s busy schedule has led him to drop out. That’s certainly understandable – Spielberg is now putting the finishing touches on his Cold War espionage thriller Bridge of Spies while simultaneously entering pre-production on effects-heavy fantasy The BFG. Thank You For Your Service, it seems, was one project too many.
The pic is still housed at Spielberg’s DreamWorks, and it’s believed that the studio wants to get cameras rolling quickly to tap into the same cultural appetite for stories of modern combat that led American Sniper to blockbuster numbers in the typically barren month of January.
Hall’s work on American Sniper required him to become intimately familiar with PTSD in war veterans, so perhaps it makes sense that he’d want to guide this project from behind the camera as well as from a screenwriter’s perspective. Working with DreamWorks on it, Hall will hopefully find a great deal of support as he tackles his first directing gig.
Following American Sniper‘s subject of adjusting to normal life after combat, Thank You For Your Service explores the lives of three veterans back in the U.S. “who struggle to integrate back into family and civilian life, coping with the horrific memory of a war that threatens to destroy them long after they’ve left the battlefield.”
Here’s the full book synopsis:
No journalist has reckoned with the psychology of war as intimately as David Finkel. In The Good Soldiers, his bestselling account from the front lines of Baghdad, Finkel embedded with the men of the 2-16 Infantry Battalion as they carried out the infamous “surge,” a grueling fifteen-month tour that changed them all forever.
In Thank You for Your Service, Finkel follows many of those same men as they return home and struggle to reintegrate–both into their family lives and into American society at large. He is with them in their most intimate, painful, and hopeful moments as they try to recover, and in doing so, he creates an indelible, essential portrait of what life after war is like–not just for these soldiers, but for their wives, widows, children, and friends, and for the professionals who are truly trying, and to a great degree failing, to undo the damage that has been done. Thank You for Your Service is an act of understanding, and it offers a more complete picture than we have ever had of two essential questions: When we ask young men and women to go to war, what are we asking of them? And when they return, what are we thanking them for?