BAFTA-winning “Sex Education” star Aimee Lou Wood and Oscar-nominee Matt Dillon (“Crash”) have been tapped to star as Anna and Fyodor Dostoyevsky in “The Gambler Wife,” a dark comedy about one of world literature’s most towering figures, by two-time Berlinale prize winner Małgorzata Szumowska (“Mug,” “The Other Lamb”).
“The Gambler Wife” follows the Russian novelist and his much younger, pregnant wife, Anna, as they travel to Switzerland for their honeymoon. Anna tolerates her husband’s gambling addiction, which will serve as inspiration for his burgeoning literary career. However, Fyodor’s compulsive roulette playing continues to cause problems for the couple until they are forced to return to a Russia that is not quite as they remember.
“This dark comedy explores the patriarchal, nationalistic Russian identity which keeps on waging war between the West and the East, which is as relevant today as it was two hundred years ago,” said Szumowska.
Pic is produced by Ilya Stewart and Klaudia Smieja-Rostworowska with Dillon, Nick Schumaker, Jim Stark and Aleksandr Fomin as executive producers. It’s written by Szumowska and Kasper Bajon and adapted from Andrew D. Kaufman’s book “The Gambler Wife: A True Story of Love, Risk and the Woman Who Saved Dostoyevsky.”
The film, which will see Szumowska collaborate with her longtime cinematographer Michal Englert, is expected to shoot in the second quarter of 2024. AC Independent, the sales division of Anonymous Content, and CAA Media Finance co-represent the film’s domestic distribution rights.
“I’m overjoyed to be working with the singular Malgo on this film,” said Wood. “Her work hits me right in the heart and gut. She has such a wonderful ability to combine searingly truthful humanity with dream-like magic. Within reading the first few pages of the brilliant script I felt beyond excited to play Anna and bring to life her mix of stoicism, eccentricity, mischief and wisdom. And I can’t think of anyone better to play Dostoyevsky than Matt! I’m thrilled!”
“I am really excited to be a part of this project and to be working with Malgo to bring this incredible character to life,” added Dillon.
Szumowska won the Berlin Film Festival’s Silver Bear for best director for “Body” in 2015 and the Silver Bear Grand Jury Prize for “Mug” in 2018. Her 2020 film, “Never Gonna Snow Again,” premiered in competition at the Venice Film Festival and was Poland’s submission for the Academy Awards.
“We are incredibly excited to be working with such a talented cast to bring Malgo’s very unique vision of the characters of Fyodor and Anna to the screen,” said Hype Studios producer Ilya Stewart. “The film tackles and addresses important issues and their effects on modern society today, as well as the overall human condition, but will also hopefully provide the opportunity for cathartic release through comedy, laughter and tears.”
Hype Studios is an independent European-based production company launched by Stewart last year. Operating from Paris, Monaco and Berlin, the company focuses on English-language feature films and television series, working with international talent. Besides “The Gambler Wife,” Hype Studios’ upcoming projects include new features by Kirill Serebrennikov and Egor Abramenko.
Recent releases include the Berlinale title “The Cage is Looking for a Bird,” by Malika Musaeva, Pietro Marcello’s Cannes Directors’ Fortnight opening film “Scarlet,” and “Sanctuary,” starring Margaret Qualley and Christopher Abbott, released theatrically by Neon this week.
Wood is represented by Independent Talent Group and CAA. Dillon is represented by Untitled Entertainment and UTA. Szumowska is represented by Anonymous Content, Casarotto Ramsay & Associates and CAA. Kaufman is represented by Rob McQuilkin from Massie & McQuilkin Literary Agents and UTA. Stewart is represented by Granderson Des Rochers LLP.