Judi Dench and Anthony Hopkins Want Some Italian Shoes

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Variety is reporting that Judi Dench and Anthony Hopkins are in talks for the lead roles in “Italian Shoes,” which Kenneth Branagh (“Thor”) will direct.

Based on Swedish author Swedish Henning Mankell’s novel, here’s the book’s description:

From the prizewinning “master of atmosphere” (Boston Globe) comes the surprising and affecting story of a man well past middle age who suddenly finds himself on the threshold of renewal.

Living on a tiny island entirely surrounded by ice during the long winter months, Fredrik Welin is so lost to the world that he cuts a hole in the ice every morning and lowers himself into the freezing water to remind himself that he is alive. Haunted by memories of the terrible mistake that drove him to this island and away from a successful career as a surgeon, he lives in a stasis so complete an anthill grows undisturbed in his living room.

When an unexpected visitor alters his life completely, thus begins an eccentric, elegiac journey—one that shows Mankell at the very height of his powers as a novelist.

A deeply human tale of loss and redemption, Italian Shoes is a testament to the unpredictability of life, which breeds hope even in the face of tragedy.

The film will start shooting toward the end of 2012 or in 2013, depending on when the two veteran British actors are available.

Branagh told Daily Variety that the project is “tailor-made” for Hopkins and Dench, and has been developed with them in mind. “The nuance, delicacy and flavor is so based on the perfect casting,” he said.

Their casting, he said, “takes advantage of my long relationship with the pair of them.”