Brad Anderson’s latest film The Call, starring Halle Barry and Abigail Breslin hits theaters today. The screenwriter, Richard D’Ovidio based the film on real situations that occurred at LA’s downtown call center. Before Anderson was attached, producer Bradley Gallo knew they had a great script and talked to Emanuel Levy about about the need to find the right director. “Where’s the indie director who gives you the character performances, can handle the dark material, then add a commercial script so he gives you a little different version?” Gallo knew Anderson’s work and wanted him to read the script.
He [Anderson] can go as lighthearted as Next Stop Wonderland, he has the horror of Session 9, and the character-driven The Machinist. Then we met with him, and he’s kind of a serious guy, and we say, ‘What’s your vision of this movie?’ And he comes out with exactly what he’s going to do, and we were just floored. It was a done deal.
Anderson loved the script and felt the material expanded his skills because of the intimate set-up of the story.
911 calls have always fascinated me. We hear the calls but never really know what goes into the call. We only get bits and pieces. This film will answer a lot of those questions…Most of the story takes place in the course of one day, a couple of hours. It’s almost kind of a real-time type scenario and it’s very contained, literally contained. I mean, much of the action occurs at the call center, and in the trunk of a car. I was sort of interested in the idea of how to tell a story, dramatically and visually and cinematically, in such a small space. It posed a lot of challenges, but that was part of the draw for me, as well.
Lately Anderson’s been directing TV episodes on shows like Fringe and The Killing. His last few films have been in the horror/thriller genres but he started out making romantic comedies. One of his first was Next Stop Wonderland, a Sundance Film Festival hit starring Hope Davis and Philip Seymour Hoffman. Spliced Wire magazine called the film “a charming but sardonic romantic comedy about fate, rejection and the personal ads.” The magazine interviewed Davis during the film’s release about how she got involved in the film.
I read it, and it was exactly where my life was at, and I thought it was perfect timing. When I met him [Anderson], I’d just gone through a massively huge break up, and I guess when I walked in there it was just all over my face.
Brad seemed to have a really clear picture on who my character was, and the fact that he didn’t want her to be sugar-coated in any way, or even easy in any way. I thought he had a very kind of true vision of what it’s really liked to get dumped and be by yourself, you know? It’s not cozy. You don’t cuddle up on your bed with your animals and watch TV. You’re just devastated sometimes. I thought it was honest and true. Also, I thought he had a really clear picture of the dating thing. Even though a lot of that stuff was improvised with the guys.
On Anderson’s website, he says the film was born out of ‘saudade’.
Saudade is a Brazilian word. It roughly translates into “melancholy” but it also implies a kind of longing for a happiness that is no longer within reach, a kind of home sickness. As Andre the Brazilian musicologist says in the movie, ‘it means sadness and happiness at the same time.’ It is a term often used to describe Brazilian music, particularly samba and Bossa Nova. Listen to a great samba like Corcovado and you can hear the happiness and the sadness, all stirred together. In this movie I wanted to create a character, Erin, who embodied this mixed emotion, this saudade. It is her contentment with solitude along with her longing for companionship that for me makes her journey to find the right man so compelling… and funny.