Daniel Barnz is having a good career. This week’s headline reveals the director’s involvement in adapting the Héctor Tobar novel called The Barbarian Nurseries. The film project should be kind to the director because adaptations are fast becoming the gentleman’s forte.
Barnz recently made Variety’s list of the top ten up and coming directors to watch. He wowed Sundance Film Festival audiences in 2008 with the release of Phoebe in Wonderland. Starring Elle Fanning, Felicity Huffman, Patricia Clarkson and Bill Pullman, the picture is about a child diagnosed with Tourette syndrome.
But it was adapting the young adult novel, Beastly, which may have given the director a taste for adaptations. That one wasn’t brilliant, but it had its moments. It starred Alex Pettyfer, Vanessa Hudgens and Neil Patrick Harris. The coolest casting in that one was definitely giving Mary-Kate Olsen the role of a modern-day witch.
This weekend Barnz will debut Won’t Back Down, based on the events of 2010, when the parent trigger law was used in Sunland-Tujunga, Los Angeles. It stars Maggie Gyllenhaal and Viola Davis. Barnz is a Yale graduate and also attended the University of Southern California Film School. The Barbarian Nurseries‘ story is also set in Southern California.
When Barnz revealed his attachment to The Barbarian Nurseries, he said,
It’s a great natural step from this one because like Won’t Back Down, it’s also essentially a human drama that has some political overtones and so I’m very drawn to those kinds of films.
The tale examines the life of a modern-day, California-based, mixed-race couple. Some have called the novel a West Coast update on Tom Wolfe’s Bonfire of the Vanities. The Barbarian Nurseries is a story about the intricacies of family and a major character is the Mexican maid. It has made a few best read of the year lists and one reviewer called it “a masterful tale of contemporary Los Angeles, a novel as alive as the city itself.” There’s also a search for a long-lost father, which I wager many will be able to relate to.
If you liked Spanglish, starring Adam Sandler, Paz Vega, and Téa Leoni, then keep your eye on The Barbarian Nurseries. It should be even better and a little more realistic, but just as funny.
Author Héctor Tobar also wrote The Tattooed Soldier. He’s a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist as well.