Amazon Studios is dating Benedict Andrews’ Jean Seberg biopic “Seberg,” starring Kristen Stewart as the Hollywood actress turned political target of the title, for award season prime time on December 13. (Deadline has the scoop.)
Poorly reviewed out of the film’s world premiere at the Venice Film Festival, Andrews’ true-to-life drama about Seberg’s frantic descent into paranoia after becoming the target of an FBI counter-intelligence probe in the late 1960s faces an uphill box-office climb during the noisy awards fray; Amazon is more likely branding the title for eventual Prime availability.
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“Seberg” is inspired by the real events about the French New Wave ingénue and icon discovered by Otto Preminger (who tortured her on the set of 1957’s “Saint Joan” and 1958’s “Bonjour Tristesse”) and Jean-Luc Godard (1960’s earth-shaking “Breathless”). Andrews’ film, from a script by Joe Shrapnel and Anna Waterhouse (scribes behind 2010’s Halle Berry-starrer “Frankie and Alice”), centers on Seberg’s relationship with Hoover’s FBI in the wake of her political and romantic involvement with civil-rights activist Hakim Jamal.
Throughout her last years of life, Seberg cycled through marriages, and battled increased mental illness, and what she perceived to be constant surveillance hastened her deterioration. She died a sad and lonely death by probable suicide in the backseat of her car in 1979, where her body decomposed for over a week.
IndieWire’s David Ehrlich reviewed the film out of Venice: “Less a biopic about the ‘Breathless’ star than a paranoid thriller that revolves around her fateful role in the FBI’s COINTELPRO surveillance program, Andrews’ film might position Seberg as its subject, but it ultimately just uses her as a screen on which to project a story about someone else. Whereas Quentin Tarantino suffused [Sharon] Tate’s memory into the very soul of his revisionist elegy, liberating the murdered starlet from her own iconography, Andrews — whose film also takes place in the late 1960s — inadvertently suggests that Seberg is only worth remembering for the residual effect she had on the people who saw her.”
Andrews’ previous film was “Una,” a screen adaptation of the acclaimed play “Blackbird.” “Una” was the creepy but effective story of a young woman (Rooney Mara) in a Stockholm-syndrome kind of love bond with her childhood rapist (Ben Mendelsohn).
Amazon’s best shot at the Academy Awards this year is “The Report,” Scott Z. Burns’ political drama starring Annette Bening as Senator Dianne Feinstein and Adam Driver (an Oscar lock for Netflix’s “Marriage Story”) as her idealistic Senate staffer who uncovers the truth about the CIA’s post-9/11 interrogation program. The film releases theatrically on November 15.