The Memory Police, a 1994 Yōko Ogawa novel, already feels like a Charlie Kaufman-esque project, concerning the elusive nature of memories and the surreal oppression of forces beyond our controls. So why not make the movie version official? Per Deadline, Kaufman will be adapting the work into an Amazon Studios film, with director Reed Morano coming aboard to helm.
The novel concerns an unnamed island in a dystopian reality in which people are starting to forget things. At first, innocuous things like hats or birds. But when a force called The Memory Police starts to investigate the island, making sure its residents keep these concepts gone and forgotten, the insidious nature of this happening begins to reveal itself. And when a novelist and her book editor realize they’re one of the few who can keep things remembered, they must hide away from these forces to keep the truth at the tops of their brains.
Kaufman, whose own Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind sounds a little like a twee romance take on similar themes, most recently wrote and directed I’m Thinking of Ending Things for Netflix; this will be the first feature film project he’s written and not directed since 2004’s Eternal Sunshine. Morano most recently directed The Rhythm Section, one of the last films I saw in theaters before the pandemic shut ’em all down, which I found to be a fierce, brutal, stylish, and wholly underrated grim spy picture. She’s also directed episodes of shows like The Handmaid’s Tale, Billions, and Halt and Catch Fire. These two folks have interesting differences in their style — magical realism versus kitchen sink grittiness — and it will be beyond interesting to see them come together to bring such a prescient novel to life.
For more on Kaufman, here’s our review of I’m Thinking of Ending Things.