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The Idiot: Sandi Tan's next film after 'Shirkers'

The Idiot: Sandi Tan's next film after 'Shirkers'

Ghosts of our pasts

Text: Ethan Lee

Editor: Aravin Sandran


What is The Idiot about?

Published in 2017, the book is written by award-winning Turkish-American author and journalist Elif Batuman. The auto-fiction biographical novel has a couple of notable mentions under its belt including finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 2018.

It tracks the psychological and moral growth of a young, 18-year-old ambitious and intellectual girl, Selin, in her freshman year as a linguistic student at Harvard. She comes across an older student, Ivan, in her Russian language class and soon starts to develop a crush on him. Set in 1995 during the nascent stages of the email, the two undergraduates first get in closer through email before spending time IRL. Not knowing how or when to express their feelings to each other, the two went their separate ways after summer break.

Batuman reportedly began writing the story after graduating when she was about 23 years of age. It was only 15 years after the romance that she decided to re-visit the experience, which dragged her back into an uncomfortable stage into her past. Interestingly enough, Batuman had to even check in with Ivan to see if he was comfortable with her sharing their emails in the book.

Does it have any similarities with Shirkers?

Filmmaker Sandi Tan got hooked by the very first line in The Idiot: "I didn't know what email was until I went to college." She felt that she could relate to Batuman specifically becuase they were about the same age when they entered college.

Tan soon realised that when they were both looking back and recounting something that had happened when they were 18.

More importantly, both stories feature an older male character that had left them heartbroken with their lives hanging on a cliff without closure.

How will Sandi adapt The Idiot for the silver screen?

Sandi Tan has been doing recee visits to Batuman's alma mater, possibly to ascertain the vibe of the Ivy League college campus. She has reportedly described the adaptation of The Idiot as "Twilight meets Phantom Thread, meets Call Me By Your Name, meets Vertigo, with a little dash of Lady Bird in there". Consider us sold on the coming-of-age movie!

The release date for the movie hasn't been confirmed yet.

Follow Sandi on IG for further updates.

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