Joe Berlinger, the man who, with Bruce Sinofsky, helmed documentaries like Metallica: Some Kind of Monster, Brother’s Keeper and the Paradise Lost trilogy, has signed on to helm a true-crime thriller, Facing the Wind.
Based on the best-selling book of the same name by former New York Times reporter Julie Salamon, Facing the Wind tells the true story of Bob Rowe, to be played by Alessandro Nivola (American Hustle, Devil’s Knot), a model husband and father whose profound psychic unraveling leads him to commit an unimaginable act of violence against those he holds dearest and his subsequent search for redemption.
Oscar-nominated Vera Farmiga (Up In the Air, “Bates Motel”) is attached to play Bob Rowe’s first wife Mary, whom he kills, while two-time Golden Globe nominee Evan Rachel Wood (Thirteen, The Wrestler) plays Bob’s second wife, with whom he marries and starts a new life after avoiding a prison sentence by pleading the insanity defense at trial. Rita Wilson (It’s Complicated) and Jennifer Beals (The Book of Eli) are also attached to play key supporting roles.
The trial of Bob Rowe for the quadruple familicide of his entire family represented one of the first successful uses of the insanity defense in New York State and this historic 1978 legal case has never been explored in a film before.
“My documentary work is known for transcending sensational subjects to tell compelling human dramas that raise many complex questions about human relationships and behavior,” says Berlinger. “I am so honored to collaborate with this exciting cast who will excel at creating a multi-layered feature film that tackles age-old questions of guilt and redemption, retribution and forgiveness in a fresh and dramatically compelling manner.”
The script for Facing the Wind, written by Richard Stratton (Slam, Street Time), structures the story of the killings the violent act central to the story is told in flashbacks around the present-tense interrogation of Bob Rowes widow Colleen (Wood). This approach shifts the dramatic focus from being a voyeuristic examination of a crime to the emotional and psychological journey of Bobs second wife, which enables the husband (Rowe) an opportunity for redemption.
The project marks Berlinger’s first narrative feature since 2000’s Blair Witch 2: Book of Shadows. He is also slated to produce Facing the Wind alongside Elizabeth Fowler (Devil’s Knot).
(Photo Credit: Carlo Allegri)