Frances McDormand to pen screenplay for adaptation of The Omnivore's Dilemma

Frances McDormand accepts a Screen Actors Guild Award on January 25, 2015. (Photo by Robert Gauthier/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)
Frances McDormand accepts a Screen Actors Guild Award on January 25, 2015. (Photo by Robert Gauthier/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

You know Frances McDormand as the winner of an Academy Award (Fargo), and for her fresh Golden Globe for Best Actress (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri). It’s a good thing the film version of Michael Pollan’s 2006 book The Omnivore’s Dilemma nabbed such a talent, because adapting nonfiction books, especially about food, is tricky stuff.

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McDormand will make her screenwriting debut with this film, which will be cowritten and directed by Sam Hoffman (Humor Me, Moonrise Kingdom), Hollywood.com reports. There’s also talk that she’ll star in it.

But anyone’s who had a “meh” reaction to the film versions of Fast Food Nation or—heaven forbid—Eat Pray Love knows that adapting popular nonfiction books into films is no easy task. One wonders how Pollan’s non-narrative set-up could translate into anything but a documentary. We’re really rooting for you here, Frances!

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In 2011, Georgetown University professor and director Natsu Onoda adapted The Omnivore’s Dilemma for the stage and cast it with Georgetown students. In this “interactive” performance, the audience was encourage hunt and gather information about food from around the theater. Mmkay.

One of the benefits of the book form is that just when Pollan seems to veer into preachy territory or when the sadly ill corn-fed cows get to be too much, you can put the book down. Not so with a 90-min-plus film, unless you get up in the middle of it for an (organic) popcorn break.

Kate Bernot is a freelance writer and a certified beer judge. She was previously managing editor at The Takeout.

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DISCUSSION

My enduring memory of Michael Pollan is Paula Poundstone going off on him on an episode of Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me.

POLLAN: There’s a few simple tests to figure out if a Ring Ding is food or not. How many ingredients does a Ring Ding have?

POUNDSTONE: Devil’s food cake, one.

POLLAN: Now, see, right there.

POUNDSTONE: A creamy filling, two.

ROCCA: Yeah.

POUNDSTONE: And a rich, chocolate outer coating. What’s the matter with you?

https://www.npr.org/2011/05/14/136295570/food-expert-michael-pollan-plays-not-my-job