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Cinema has discovered Ottessa Moshfegh, but it's not as easy as it seems

Who will be able to bring her somewhat off-putting weirdness to the screen?

Cinema has discovered Ottessa Moshfegh, but it's not as easy as it seems Who will be able to bring her somewhat off-putting weirdness to the screen?

I read My Year of Rest and Relaxation in the spring and summer of 2021. I was doing a job I hated, dragging myself through the city sweaty and unhappy, drinking too much Coke Zero. The protagonist of Ottessa Moshfegh's novel - a discontented, bored semi-heiress with the ambitious plan to narcotize herself for a whole year and then emerge like a butterfly from a cocoon made of psychotropic drugs and inertia, who hates her life and everyone in it - is anything but likable or relatable, and empathizing with her is very complex. Yet (thanks to the writer's smooth style and hypnotic rhythm) she got under my skin, stirring up my gray matter. Now, emphatically and exaggeratedly but not entirely, I speak of a before and after this book in my adult life.

Eileen, by William Oldroyd

My Year of Rest and Relaxation is not the only novel by the American writer of Iranian origins. In fact, it's her third novel, following McGlue - written in 2014 and only recently published in Italy - and Eileen, from 2015. The latter was the first of Moshfegh's books to be adapted into a film. The eponymous film was released in 2023, directed by William Oldroyd. It is a story of obsession and love set in the 1960s. The protagonist is played by Thomasin McKenzie, while the captivating psychologist Rebecca is portrayed by Anne Hathaway. Critics highly appreciated it. The Italian audience, however, less so.

My Year of Rest and Relaxation is in the hands of Yorgos Lanthimos

After this successful experiment, which seems to have broken a dam, the film industry has decided to embrace Ottessa Moshfegh's work and bring three more of her novels to the screen. These include My Year of Rest and Relaxation, to be adapted by Yorgos Lanthimos, the director of Poor Things; McGlue, set on a ship in 1851, to be directed by Andrew Haigh; and finally Death in Her Hands, a project linked to director David Lowery. The details available on these projects are very few. There's no talk of the cast or screenplay yet, and we don't know if the author will participate in writing the script as she did with Eileen.

@lanaspinkbanisters4 watching movies all day as a tribute to my year of rest and relaxation #fyp #myyearofrestandrelaxation #girlblogger #real som original - anelise.

These news have greatly excited the writer's fans, who have gone wild with fancasting. While Lanthimos can be seen as a good match for Moshfegh's obsessive, dark, ambiguous, subtle, and penetrating stories, we don't yet know how the other directors will fare. It is wonderful that a relatively young and successful author is being recognized, and that there is the possibility for her to have control over the screenplays. However, her cruel, apathetic, and off-putting worlds are not easy to transport to the big screen. We eagerly await to see if these directors will succeed or not.