Transit will most certainly appeal to women, and in a way defying age demographics. Not only do we follow these women from youth to middle-age, other female characters are important; notably, Dora, the aunt who cares for Caroline and Grace when their parents are killed. At the same time, the film will attract the masculine audience that enjoys a mystery, as it offers several strong male protagonists who exist beyond “romantic lead” purposes. Ted Tice, the astronomer, is quietly heroic, and this will draw a youthful, male audience. Then, the demographic is widened to include lovers of literature and “art” films; Hazzard’s book received multiple honors,
was excerpted in The New Yorker, and is considered very high-quality, modern fiction.
The choice of director here is as critical as the quality of the screenplay. Any treatment centered on the emotional lives of its characters requires a strong and precise hand, as the screenplay must maintain the story’s integrity without excess exposition. To better convey this, the direction of The Age of Innocence by Martin Scorsese comes to mind. Deftly using minimal narration, Scorsese moved Wharton’s complex story along without rendering it a lecture-on-film. This same style is needed for Transit because flashbacks will greatly add drama and support the modern scenes. For instance, we do not want to dwell on the lives of the young girls in Australia, but a few scenes of that past, in a hopeless and dominated situation, will validate the characters of the adult sisters. The movie requires a director who is confident enough to underscore the emotion without exaggerating it, and who also has the visual sense of how to highlight detail in important, and sometimes silent, scenes. The drowning young man, for example, should be used in Transit almost as Scorsese used the yellow roses in Age of Innocence; as a recurring theme. At the same time, and in view of Mystic River, Clint Eastwood could add depth and additional realism to this story, which is similarly centered on a body.
Given the strength of the story, Transit does not require big-name stars, as it also is free of the budget concerns of a “big” film or action movie. Solid character actors, however, are definitely called for. Patricia Clarkson, for instance, is exactly the right type to play the neurotic, unhappy Dora. Tom Wilkinson would be ideal for the secondary role of Adam, the older man who changes Caroline’s life for the better. Essentially, what would attract a variety of actors to the lead roles is that Transit revolves around two women and two men: Caroline, Grace, Ted Tice, and Paul Ivory, the rogue element. Most accomplished actors enjoy such minimal ensemble work.
Ultimately, The Transit of Venus film satisfies any concerns an investor must have. It is a high-end property, presenting several poignant love stories around a mystery that goes to the core of them. It offers realism, romance, and suspense, all based on a literate and widely acclaimed work. There are no major budget needs, as the film is involved only in urban and country scenes of ordinary living. The movie’s demographic is large, encompassing women and men of ages beyond adolescence, as well as all those who made the literary, Merchant Ivory adaptations so successful. The film version of Shirley Hazzard’s The Transit of Venus is, in all the ways that matter, an investor’s dream.
Hazzard, Shirley. The Transit of Venus. New York: Penguin, 1990. Print.
The Age of Innocence. Dir. Martin Scorsese. Perf. Daniel Day-Lewis, Michelle Pfeiffer, Wynona Ryder, Geraldine Chaplin, and Mary Beth Hurt. Columbia, 1993. Film.
Mystic River. Dir. Clint Eastwood. Perf. Sean Penn, Tim Robbins, Kevin Bacon, Laura Linney, and Laurence Fishburne. Warner Bros., 2003. Film.