Few novels seem as unlikely to translate to the movie screen as Emma Donoghue’s “Room.” The phenomenal success of her 2010 bestseller stems entirely from the interior voice of her 5-year-old narrator, Jack, who’s imprisoned with his mother in a garden shed.
But if anyone can bring that story to the theater, perhaps its author can. For years, Donoghue has been working on the screenplay, and now Lenny Abrahamson has been announced as the director. Ed Guiney of Element Films will be the producer.
Donoghue tells me that the major challenge has been “capturing the child’s perspective without a word of voice over.”
She was determined to find just the right people to help her. “It was a slow process to get to this point of going into official cahoots with Lenny and Element Pictures,” she says via e-mail, “but really not a hard decision, because Lenny combines indie pedigree with grand ambition and has shown a persistent zeal for this project over the past three years.”
Her working relationship with Abrahamson has been helped by the fact they’re both parents of small children and they’re both Dubliners who have “turned from academic pursuits to mass-media storytelling.”
“He’s been helping me strengthen my screenplay for about six months now, and it’s been pure pleasure for me, which you don’t often hear novelists saying about directors. I particularly appreciate the fact that he’s able to say quite clearly what he means, which isn’t always the case for strongly visual creatives!”
Donoghue says the script is “more or less done,” and they’re eager to begin casting.
“Room,” which was a finalist for the Booker Prize, has sold more than 2.5 million copies in English and been translated into more than 30 language.
Abrahamson is currently finishing up work on “Frank,” starring Domhnall Gleeson and Michael Fassbender.