When you win the Academy Award for Best Director, a great deal of anticipation naturally builds around the possibilities for your next choice of film. When Ang Lee received that honour for Brokeback Mountain, he released Lust, Caution two years later. But here we are, almost two years after his win for 2012’s Life Of Pi, and his next directorial project has yet to be officially confirmed. It does seem that he is in talks to take the reins of the upcoming adaptation of the 2012 novel Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk by Ben Fountain, however, and – if it comes to fruition – this could be an incredible follow-up.
Billed as a ‘biting’ satire of the Iraq War, the novel is set in Texas, and centres around a squad of soldiers returning from the conflict for a stage-managed, media-intensive ‘victory tour’ at Texas Stadium. The official synopsis for the novel is as follows:
“Three minutes and forty three seconds of intense warfare with Iraqi insurgents has transformed the eight surviving men of Bravo Squad into America’s most sought-after heroes. Now they’re on a media-intensive nationwide tour to reinvigorate support for the war. On this rainy Thanksgiving, the Bravos are guests of the Dallas Cowboys, slated to be part of the half-time show alongside Destiny’s Child.
Among the Bravos is Specialist Billy Lynn. Surrounded by patriots sporting flag pins on their lapels and ‘Support Our Troops’ bumper stickers, he is thrust into the company of the Cowboys’ owner and his coterie of wealthy colleagues; a born again Cowboys cheerleader; a veteran Hollywood producer; and supersized players eager for a victorious taste of war. Over the course of this day, Billy will drink and brawl, yearn for home and mourn those missing, face a heart-wrenching decision, and discover pure love and a bitter wisdom far beyond his years.”
It’s a brilliant premise, and the book has received near-universal critical acclaim. It has been adapted for the screen by Simon Beaufoy – himself an Oscar winner for Slumdog Millionaire – which means that if Ang Lee does indeed move forward with this project, we’ll have something on the slate that will prove challenging, funny and moving from a powerhouse partnership of Hollywood talent.