Three very influential artists are partaking in the making of an upcoming Netflix miniseries. The first is Margaret Atwood, providing source material through her based-on-a-true-story crime novel, Alias Grace. The second is writer/director/actor Sarah Polley — known for her beautiful documentary Stories We Tell her odd, contemplative rom-com, Take This Waltz, and her Oscar nominated drama, Away From Her. According to Deadline, she’ll be writing and producing. And the third is American Psycho‘s Mary Harron, who’ll be directing.
Polley, Harron, and Atwood all hail from Canada, and the story itself takes place in Ontario in 1843. Atwood’s 1996 book is based on the life of Grace Marks, a servant who was convicted (alongside a stable hand named James McDermott) for the double homicide of Thomas Kinnear (for whom they worked) and his housekeeper Nancy Montgomery. The book itself, however, also follows a mental health-specializing doctor (who Atwood fabricated) named Simon Jordan, who’s been enlisted by a group aiming to pardon Marks. (McDermott’s already been hanged for the crime, while she’s serving a life sentence.) The novel is told from both Jordan’s point of view as he looks into the case and from Marks’ own perspective. Marks has no recollection of the murders, and her involvement itself is questioable — and Jordan seeks to try to get her to remember as much as possible about the day where she did or didn’t kill two people.
Polley said in a statement that she’s reread the book many times since she first came across it at 17, and that Marks is “the most complex, riveting character [she’s] ever read.” Polley had in fact originally written a feature-length adaptation, before deciding to turn it into a miniseries. It’s scheduled to begin shooting this August in Ontario, and to air on CBC while streaming on Netflix.
It’s been a big couple of months as far as Atwood-honoring news goes: she recently won the 2016 Pen Pinter Prize, and her novel The Handmaid’s Tale is also becoming a series — for Hulu — starring Elisabeth Moss.