New ensemble female spy thriller 355 set to auction at Cannes
It’s already one of the most buzzed about projects in the upcoming espionage thriller genre, and with a cast full of talented performers, it’s easy to see why 355 has a lot of attention in the news of its auction debut at Cannes next week.
According to Deadline, the film will mark the second directorial effort from Simon Kinberg, whose debut is the upcoming installment in the X-Men franchise, Dark Phoenix, and who is well-known for writing three previous films in the franchise as well as co-writing 2009’s Sherlock Holmes, starring Robert Downey, Jr., and 2012’s Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, starring Benjamin Walker.
While it has a strong eye behind the camera, it’s the performers in front who have sent expectations sky-high for the film. Following a group of top female agents from government agencies around the globe as they try to stop an organization from acquiring a deadly weapon to send the world into chaos, the group will be portrayed by Jessica Chastain (Molly’s Game), Marion Cotillard (Assassin’s Creed), Penelope Cruz (Murder on the Orient Express), Fan Bingbing (X-Men: Days of Future Past) and Lupita Nyong’o (Black Panther).
Not only is Chastain, who is just coming off working with Kinberg on Phoenix, returning with the director and producing it through her company Freckle Films, but she is also the one who came up with the story idea and crafted it for the film, earning her the “Story by” credit on it. In her interview with Deadline, Chastain said she was inspired to come up with the story for the project in her time working on The Help, in which she loved working with the “female ensemble” and wanted to bring that environment back to life in the spy genre since Charlie’s Angels.
“I love the Bourne movies, the Mission: Impossible films, and wondered why, except for Charlie’s Angels, there hadn’t been a true female ensemble action-thriller spy film. That got my wheels going, along with the idea of casting actresses from all over the world to truly make it an international project. I realized the incredible creative freedom we would have with that. I brought the idea to Simon, told him about the actresses I was thinking of, and he was so sweet. He said, ‘I want to do it with you.’”
Chastain was also the driving force behind the cast in the film, having called all of them herself and offered the parts and receiving confirmations from all of them right away. The title, 355, comes from one of the very first spies in the United States during the American Revolution, who was also a woman, so Agent 355 has become slang for those in the CIA for a female spy, which Chastain learned while doing her research for 2012’s Zero Dark Thirty.
In earning her experience in the genre with the acclaimed biographical political thriller, Chastain has set a goal for making the film as authentic and grounded as possible for audience members who work in these agencies to view the film and see the realism in their portrayals, as well as avoiding the campy nature of some other genre entries, such as Angels. Chastain is also proud to bring this film to the big screen to change the game for the genre, which hasn’t seen women take a central role in for years.
“The action genre has long been dominated by male heroes, and it’s so exciting to be part of a film that will allow for not just one female action hero but a whole ensemble of very capable, fierce female characters that reject tired stereotypes,” she said. “Characters that liberate from the confines of stereotypical traits. That is something that excited me about this, the opportunity to create different types of female heroes.”
Chastain can be seen in Dark Phoenix in February 2019. Cotillard will have her next film, Angel Face, debut at Cannes this month. Cruz will also have her next picture, Everybody Knows, debut at Cannes. Bingbing’s next film, the sci-fi adventure The King’s Daughter, is still looking for new international distributors. And Nyong’o can be seen in the upcoming zombie horror comedy Little Monsters, which will make its debut in Australia sometime later this year.
(Photo Credit: Getty Images)