The story of 19-year-old Alice Mitchell and 17-year-old Freda Ward is a tragic one. In 1892 Tennessee, the two girls fell hard for each other, and made plans to marry that included Alice masquerading as a man to fool the official. But when their wedding plans were discovered by their disapproving families, the couple was forbidden to speak to each other ever again. And from there, things took a dark turn that ended in murder and madness.
Now, this sounds like the stuff of jailbait pulp fiction or fodder for the Investigation Discovery channel. But we’re thrilled about news of an adaptation of Alexis Coe’s book Alice + Freda Forever: A Murder In Memphis because of the talent Sidney Kimmel Entertainment has brought to it: Jennifer Kent, writer/director of the all-kinds-of-badass horror offering The Babadook.
Deadline reports Kent has been brought on to pen the screenplay and helm the film, which will be her Babadook follow-up. Considering that film took a look at the dark side of motherhood with an artistic and compassionate angle, we’re positively giddy to see how Kent will interpret the story of Mitchell and Ward. In their time, this case caused a massive scandal and gave bigots cause to demonize lesbianism. But I suspect Kent’s take might make the true villain not the teen murderess, but a society that destroyed her life and love.
Following Kent’s breakout success with the sleeper hit Babadook, some entertainment journalists were pitching her for big superhero epics like Wonder Woman or Captain Marvel. It’s easy to see the allure of throwing such a big project to a visionary new director. And bonus points for a studio reaching out to a female helmer right? But personally, I’m thrilled to see Kent’s next project will give her the kind of creative control those big budgeted need-to-be blockbusters never would.
Babadook is a movie so fucking good it makes me feel better about the world. It was blazingly original, deeply disturbing, and daring for its presentation of a mother who really resented her kid. And it’s exactly someone this subversive and stylish in her filmmaking that should be making movies like Alice + Freda Forever. So, color this reported stoked.
Now let’s start dream casting this. Assume the budget is low, but any ingenue with a brain will want a piece of this. And go!
Kristy Puchko’s picks are Game of Thrones’ Sophie Turner and Ex Machina’s Alicia Vikander.