Netflix has acquired the rights to Joan Didion’s The Last Thing He Wanted, a thriller revolving around the Reagan administration’s illegal Iran-Contra arms dealing affair. Dee Rees will co-write, produce and direct with Anne Hathaway as the lead. According to Variety, the movie begins production this summer.
Dee Rees’ Mudbound made quite a splash in the film festival circuit last year and became one of Netflix’s most critically acclaimed original films. I was lucky enough to attend last year’s New York Film Festival premiere of the film, at which the young director spoke insightfully about America’s brutal, overlooked past in favor of a smoothed over, uncontroversial facade. As far as I’m concerned, those are all the right things to say when you’re getting excited for a serious political thriller concerning the U.S. government’s illegal dealings in the 1980s or any other period shaping our country’s identity.
Hathaway will play the role of Elena McMahon, a reporter who gets too deep and begins uncovering the reality of the state’s arms and drug dealing and regime change involvement.
Joan Didion, immortalized in American literature for her poetically beautiful yet factually truthful works, published her novel in 1996. The 1984-set story follows McMahon’s departure from The Washington Post and her assignment to cover the presidential primaries so she could properly care for her ailing father after her mother died. As she is burdened with her father’s job—dealing weapons for the U.S. government in Central America and managing to deal with the people involved without losing her life—she begins to learn more about herself, her family history, and the history of her country.
Regarding potential, this project has it all—an Oscar-nominated writer in Rees, and Oscar-winning actress in Hathaway, incredible source material in Didion’s novel, and a production company willing to lay it all on the line in Netflix. It’s safe to say I won’t be canceling my subscription anytime soon.