Director Tom Dolby’s The Artist’s Wife, which stars Bruce Dern and Lena Olin, will be making its world premiere at the 2019 Hamptons International Film Festival.
We recently had the pleasure of speaking with Dolby about the film, shooting in the Hamptons, his incredible cast, and more.
The film primarily takes place in the Hamptons. Is this an area that you have a connection to?
TD: Yes, I lived in the Hamptons for several years, and have had a house there for 12 years. I was in New York until 2014. I live in LA now, but during that period, and when my two kids were born, I was living out in the Hamptons for about two years. I was really inspired by particularly the winters there. I mean, I love the summers, but the winters were definitely a time of reflection and introspection, and that was where the setting for The Artist’s Wife came to me.
Did the legacy of the artists who have called the Hamptons home play into your decision to set the film there?
TD: It definitely did. The Hamptons has an incredible legacy of artists and history of artists in the area. It just made a lot of sense that this story would take place in that location. I was very inspired by Lee Krasner and Jackson Pollock, Elaine de Kooning and Willem de Kooning. Artists like that.
What are some of the local spots you filmed at?
TD: It was really important to me that we filmed at real, local locations that made sense geographically. We filmed at Cirillos Markets in Amagansett, we filmed at White’s Pharmacy in East Hampton, we filmed at Golden Eagle Art Supply in East Hampton. Those were some of the local businesses that were featured.
Then, our main house was in East Hampton, the barn where Claire paints in was in Sagaponack and Richard’s studio was actually in Amagansett. It was just really important to get that local flavor. You see her carrying in Citarella bags in one of the first scenes and just even if you look in sort of the background, there’s a Red Horse Market bag in the background of one of the scenes at the studio, a shopping bag. We just really wanted to put in those local touches.
The film deals with aging and how it impacts the people around us, as well as one’s identity as we age. Why was this a subject you wanted to explore?
TD: I think it’s a subject that people are a little bit afraid of, to explore. Aging is not something that people love talking about. It’s not something people love thinking about. Everybody wants to look younger, feel younger. I really think that if one is healthy, just as it is for Claire, those years after the age of 60 can be incredibly fruitful and rewarding.
I mean, I look at Lena Olin, our lead actress, and she herself lives the most vibrant, incredible life, and is very much like Claire in that regard. Except Claire is coming out of her shell, really realizing and rediscovering the parts of her that she left behind.
Not only did you direct the film, but you also co-wrote the screenplay. Could you speak a bit about the film’s inspiration?
TD: In terms of the dementia aspect of the film, I was inspired by my experience with my own father who had dementia and seeing the journey that my mother went through, which is again, a journey for an older woman. Claire is a little younger than my mother was during that experience.
But, really, for me, the inspiration was looking at the experience of a middle aged woman, as she experiences this sort of third act of life and the things that happen and how we have no control over what life serves us, what cards we’re dealt. We do have the choice of how to play them, and I think that’s very much what Claire is coming to terms with.
I have to say Bruce Dern and Lena Olin were both brilliant in the film. Why did you feel that they were right for the project?
TD: I loved how opposite they were. As we started working on early cuts of the film, we started calling them “The European” and “The Cowboy.” That, to me, was such a great contrast, because you might look at them and think, oh, that’s an interesting pairing. I wouldn’t really think of them as going together. And yet, they had such incredible chemistry on set and on the screen. I think it was this idea of her being from a foreign place and yearning to fit in and being so attracted to him and how American he was and how different he was from her. And he was attracted to her sort of exotic nature and how different she was and her sophistication. To me, that was sort of a case of opposites attracting each other.
What are you working on next?
TD: I’m working on a couple of different projects that my production company is developing. Some TV projects and a couple of films. We just optioned a novel called Women in Sunlight by Frances Mayes, who is the author of Under the Tuscan Sun, which was made into a movie with Diane Lane a while back. It deals with three women in their 60s. So, that seems to be something I’m drawn to exploring. I’m excited to see how that project develops.
The Artist’s Wife will screen on Friday, October 11 at Guild Hall at 2:15 p.m. and Saturday, October 12 at Southampton SH1 at 11 a.m.
The 27th annual Hamptons International Film Festival will take place Columbus Day Weekend (October 10 through October 14).
For more information, visit hamptonsfilmfest.org.