Scarlett Johansson is not having a great 2017 (though it’s not nearly as bad as Michael Fassbender’s). This summer’s Rough Night ceded the “breakout female comedy” title to Girls Trip as critics and fans largely ignored her raunchy romp. But it wasn’t nearly as bad as Ghost in the Shell, the uber-expensive Japanese anime adaptation that barely broke even and drew significant criticism for a, uhh, poor handling of white washing.
Outside of the safety net of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Johansson hasn’t enjoyed a real hit since 2014’s Lucy and hasn’t ventured too far beyond the confines of the action and comedy genres recently. She’s still a superstar with name power and talent, but she didn’t crack the list of Forbes‘ highest-paid actresses list this year. Not for nothing, but Johansson could use a win right about now. Perhaps that’s why she’s changing course and tackling some different material.
Variety reports that Johansson is in early negotiations to star in the Focus Feature drama Reflective Light. The film is an adaptation of the 2014 Carla Buckley novel The Deepest Secret with art photographer Gregory Crewdson attached to make his directorial debut. Per the outlet:
“The pic follows a teenage boy who suffers from a malady that makes him gravely allergic to sunlight. If Johansson’s deal goes through, she would play his mother, so devoted to her son’s care that she has alienated the rest of their family, creating an oddly sustainable nocturnal lifestyle for him at the expense of her own well-being. When a neighborhood girl goes missing, the balance that kept them afloat begins to unravel.”
This marks a departure for a Johansson project in terms of recent content, but that strategy has worked well in the past. Lost in Translation, The Prestige and Her were all critically acclaimed dramas that earned the actress praise for her strong performances. Maybe Reflective Light will be a re-calibration of sorts for Johansson that will get critics talking once again. As long as Marvel continues to stubbornly refuse to bankroll a Black Widow solo movie, this is the type of counter-programming move that makes sense.
Johansson will next appear in 2018’s Avengers: Infinity War.