Monday, May 4, 2020

Isla Morley's "The Last Blue"

Isla Morley grew up in South Africa during apartheid. She is the author of Come Sunday, which won the Janet Heidinger Prize for Fiction and was a finalist for the Commonwealth Prize. Her novel Above was an IndieNext pick, and Best Buzz Book, and a Publishers Weekly Best New Book. She lives in the Los Angeles area with her husband, daughter, three cats, and five tortoises.

Here Morley dreamcasts an adaptation of her new novel, The Last Blue:
Picture James Franco and John Krasinksi in the roles of two documentarians on assignment to an Appalachian outpost during the Depression, the former a gifted writer tired of being on the government’s dime and the latter a photographer whose career is flailing. This will be a departure for Krasinksi from the Jack Ryan brand, but does he really want to be typecast as an action hero when there’s so much depth and unmined potential? Stay with me, now. Soon after arriving in Chance, Kentucky, these two friends hear outlandish rumors about a secretive family quarantined in Spooklight Holler, and instead of heeding warnings to steer clear, they head into the wilderness in search of a scoop. Alicia Vikander (The Danish Girl, Tulip Fever) is perfect in both appearance and skill to be cast as Jubilee Buford, a woman forced to live in isolation on account of her shocking blue skin, the target of superstition and prejudice her whole life. There isn’t any accent Vikander can’t master, and here she will do a flawless eastern Kentucky drawl in a historical drama based on the real-life case of “The Blue People of Kentucky.”

Never has Jubilee interacted with outsiders, but now she must contend with two Northerners whose purpose she cannot discern, a task increasingly complicated as the men seek to befriend the rest of her family and the family’s sole neighbor, the cantankerous distiller played by Renée Zellweger (think Cold Mountain’s Ruby Thewes aged twenty years). Jubilee’s ally has always been her brother, the only other blue-skinned member of the family, but Levi (Lucas Black) is more volatile than usual, hiding his own illicit activities that threaten to endanger the family’s wellbeing every bit as much as the devious purpose of the two outsiders with their recording device and camera.

As for the director, Greta Gerwig is the only candidate. Okay, now someone have her yell, “Action!”
Learn more about the book and author at Isla Morley's website.

My Book, The Movie: Above.

Writers Read: Isla Morley.

--Marshal Zeringue