After a summer filled with action films and sequels, it’s always heartening to hear about intimate dramas heading for production – and Bel Canto is the latest such project. With the Golden Globe-winning Academy Award nominee Paul Weitz at the helm, the hostage drama now also boasts Julianne Moore and Ken Watanabe in the lead roles.
Bel Canto is adapted from the 2001 Ann Patchett novel of the same name, which is itself loosely based on the Japanese Embassy hostage crisis that unfolded in Lima, Peru, in 1996. The fictional work sees a birthday party held at the Vice Presidential compound of an unnamed South American nation, with the aim of encouraging wealthy businessman Katsumi Hosokawa to invest in the country. His hosts have hired American opera singer Roxane Coss to perform at the event, because he’s a noted fan of her work. As the celebration gets underway, however, terrorists attack the property and a lengthy hostage situation ensues – during which complex relationships are formed among the group.
Ken Watanabe will star as Katsumi Hosokawa, while Julianne Moore will play the opera singer Roxane Coss. They join the previously cast Demian Bichir, who will play General Benjamin – the leader of the terrorist organization. The bestselling source material is adapted for the screen by Anthony Weintraub, and will doubtless be praised for its retention of the aspects of the original story that focus on cultural difference.
At a time when many Hollywood movies are rightly being taken to task for the ‘white-washing’ of stories and characters, Bel Canto would appear to be remaining true to the essence of its initial idea – that individuals from nations which are far-removed from one another are thrust together in extreme circumstances, and eventually overcome the barriers between them. The project is currently being packaged for sale at the Toronto International Film Festival – but with these performers now confirmed, we can surely expect to hear more of Bel Canto very soon.