Director Anne Fontaine will helm the French/Australian co-production of The Grandmothers.
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7 Dec 2011 - 10:36 AM  UPDATED 26 Feb 2014 - 4:10 PM

Naomi Watts (21 Grams, Mulholland Dr., pictured) and Robin Wright (Forrest Gump, Nine Lives) will play two friends who are the lovers of each other's teenage sons in a yet-to-be-named drama to be filmed on the New South Wales coast in February.

The sons involved with these older women will be played by Xavier Samuel, who has slowly been making a name for himself in a range of Australian films and was also seen in The Twilight Saga: Eclipse, and James Frecheville, who suddenly had the spotlight turned on him as a result of his performance in the critically acclaimed Animal Kingdom.

Anne Fontaine, who directed Coco avant Chanel, will be directing the action in this French/Australian co-production.

The script has two acclaimed wordsmiths behind it: Christopher Hampton, who won an Academy Award for Dangerous Liaisons and was nominated for Atonement, adapted the script from a novella by Doris Lessing, who won the Nobel Prize for Literature four years ago. While Lessing's story is titled The Grandmothers, the two women at its heart are only grandmothers for a short time in the story and this is not seen as an appropriate title for the film.

The film is one of six features that secured investment from government film agency Screen Australia at its most recent board meeting.

Half of these six films are thrillers: Melbourne director Mark Hartley's Patrick is a reimagining of Richard Franklin's 1978 film of the same name; Perth director Zak Hilditch's These Final Hours is set during the last 24 hours on Earth, which provides a ticking clock for the narrative; and LA-based Australian Paul Currie's 2:22, his second feature after One Perfect Day, is about an air traffic controller who is thrown off course by events in what producer Jackie O'Sullivan describes as “a big commercial thriller with a love story at its core”.

Armie Hammer (The Social Network), who plays the central character in 2:22, will soon be on Australian cinema screens alongside Leonardo DiCaprio and Watt in Clint Eastwood's J. Edgar from January 26, and will have played the title role in The Lone Ranger before he heads over the Pacific to Australia in the second half of 2012 for 2:22.

The remaining two films that have just been backed by Screen Australia are based on true stories involving drugs: The Mule, a black comedy to star Angus Sampson and Leigh Whannell, tells of a man who refuses to “take a dump” after ingesting illegal substances; while The Pappas Brothers is a documentary about the Melbourne skateboard champions, Tas Pappas and Ben Pappas, whose body was found in the Yarra River about a week after his girlfriend, Lynette Phillips, was bashed to death.