The Jess Lomas Book Club: Lay the Favourite

The Jess Lomas Book Club: Lay The Favourite

*A weekly feature in which literary connoisseur Jess Lomas examines the upcoming book-to-film adaptations worth keeping an eye on!*

“A true story of money, sex, glamour and gambling.” These are the words used to sum up Beth Raymer’s memoir Lay the Favourite, from her intentions to be a cocktail waitress in Las Vegas to her meeting Dink, one of the biggest gamblers in town; Raymer is sucked into the high risk world of professional sports betting.

Okay, that doesn’t sound too exciting; especially to a non-gambler such as myself, but when I heard the casting news for the film adaptation I have to admit my interest peaked. Bruce Willis will play Dink Heimowitz, and after his turn in 2010’s RED Willis has proven he’s ready to move into more, ahem, mature roles. His character discovers a way to cheat the Las Vegas sports book betting system and is assisted by the up and coming favourite Rebecca Hall, who will play the titular character Beth. Justin Timberlake will play Rosie, Beth’s mentor, and Catherine Zeta-Jones has also joined the cast as Tulip Heimowitz, wife to Dink.

The adaptation will be directed by Stephen Frears, who has had multiple hits over the years including Dangerous Liaisons, High Fidelity and The Queen. He also directed the Michelle Pfeiffer film Cheri, but we won’t talk about that.

The screenplay was written by D.V. DeVincentis, who wrote Grosse Point Blank and co-wrote High Fidelity. Initially the film was picked up by Focus Features and had a budget set for $20 million. Now Pathe has taken over, in collaboration with Random House films, and locations are being changed to make the most of tax breaks – New Orleans rather than New York, for example. This doesn’t bode well for the production, to be under such tight fiscal conditions, but with such an amazing cast lined up (did I just include JT in ‘amazing cast’?) I hope this project goes ahead.

While the concept of the film isn’t strong enough to make me want to pick up the book, that it is based on a memoir does intrigue me. The world of gambling has made its way into many Hollywood films over the years, so if you, like me, won’t be rushing to read this memoir before the film is released, perhaps you may want to revisit Casino, The Cooler or Rounders instead.

Discuss: How does this one sound to you?

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