Sunday, July 29, 2012

Claire and Mia Fontaine's "Have Mother, Will Travel"

Mia Fontaine is an author, writer and motivational speaker whose past appearances include Good Morning America, The O’Reilly Factor, and The Montel Williams Show. She has spoken nationally about drug addiction and the long-term cost of child sexual abuse. Claire Fontaine is the author of two memoirs, a national public speaker and a former screenwriter.

In their bestselling memoir, Come Back: A Mother and Daughter’s Journey Through Hell and Back, readers around the world were inspired by the story of Mia’s harrowing drug addiction and her mother, Claire’s, desperate and ultimately successful attempts to save her.

Here Claire Fontaine shares some suggestions for cast and director of Have Mother, Will Travel: A Mother and Daughter Discover Themselves, Each Other, and the World, their second book together:
Two of the most significant characters in the book aren’t people, they’re the world itself and the mysterious, medieval Avignon, France, where we lived for four months. So the director is key. Some locations can be faked, many would be shot on location or in the region – Katmandu; Beijing; Cairo; Budapest; Meteora, Greece; ancient sites unique to Bulgaria; Dracula’s castle; Provence; Singapore, among many others. It would need someone who’s worked in a big arena, who can convey global grandeur as well as the intimacy of the intense, primal relationship of a mother and daughter. It would also have to be an American. The more we traveled the more we learned that while some things about mothers and daughters are universal, the experience, POV and attitude of American women in general, and the American mother/daughter dynamic in particular, is distinct and unique. You couldn’t possibly know the subtleties unless you were raised here, an audience of American women will pick up on it. Director Kathryn Bigelow, who won the Oscar for The Hurt Locker, would be perfect.

The perfect actress to portray Claire would be a cross between Julia Louis-Dreyfus, who’s earthy, emotional and funny (as in we’re laughing with you, Julia, not at you. Really!), and the aloof, guarded Angelica Huston. That would also make me Italian Jewish, which I am. If you’re old enough to know who they are, an even better Claire would be a fusion of the Italian actress Anna Magnani, who’s intense, emotional (and looks a lot like Claire), and the late great, wacky Lucille Ball. Good luck, future producer.

Mila Kunis is definitely Mia. She’s got Mia’s spark, humor and beauty (can you tell it’s the mother half of us writing this?), as the same look. She’s also from the Ukraine, where Mia’s Bubbie is from, though it was Czechoslovakia when Bub was born (“don’t call me Bub!”). In the book, we visit Budapest so Mia can see where her Bubbie was in hiding from the Nazis during WWII. Bubbie lived there from age thirteen, but she was born in a small town in Czechoslovakia in 1927. And we do mean small – they actually got the news from a town crier. He would listen to the latest news on the only telephone in town, which was at the only post office in town, and then stood in the center of town, played a melody on his drum that Bub still remembers, and then cried out the news. Now you know where the term town crier comes from. See what you can learn on this website?

In adapting the book (Claire is a former screenwriter) we’d do some flashbacks to Bubbie’s wartime experiences, as they loomed large in Mia’s childhood. Not in a bad way. Part of the fallout of the sexual abuse we chronicled in our first memoir, Come Back: A Mother and Daughter’s Journey Through Hell and Back, was a long period of nightmares where Mia was trapped and in danger, and her Bubbie would appear to take her into safe hiding with her. Mia and her Bubbie also have many other things in common to children who suffered extreme trauma. German actress Diane Kruger, who was terrific in Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds, is perfect, she’s a dead ringer for Bubbie when she was young. And it was Bub’s flawless German that often saved her (she could scrub it clean of Yiddish when necessary.)

Claire’s husband, Paul, stuck back home with the famous fixer-upper (or fixer-downer) is played by Aiden Quinn, whose big gray eyes look sad even when he’s happy, that Irish thing.

Our angel in Avignon, Chyrstelle, plays a big role in the second half of the book. She’s a dear old friend who scolded, coddled, entertained and educated us, as only a proper Frenchwoman can. Arielle Dombasle, absolutement, she’s beautiful, charming, whip smart and she can sing. Isabelle, our cute young landlord and now friend, looks and sounds like Audrey Tautou. Our American friend, Kristen, of, is Julie Delpy, who is half American, half French, and all adorable.

Our Greek chorus, Leah Komaiko, a little muse whose tart and tender words of wisdom spice up the story here and there, would be Lisa Kudrow.
Visit Claire and Mia Fontaine’s website and the Have Mother, Will Travel Facebook page.

--Marshal Zeringue