EXCLUSIVE: Sony Pictures Classics is in exclusive negotiations to acquire Daddio, the Christy Hall-directed two-hander starring Sean Penn and Dakota Johnson. The film established itself as a bright spot in its premiere at Telluride and then at Toronto. SPC will get North America, Latin America and territories throughout Europe and Asia.
Hall, who co-created the series I Am Not Okay With Thismakes her feature directorial debut armed with a taxi cab, two terrific actors and a razor-sharp script in which a driver and his fare get to know each other and intimate aspects of their lives during the course of a traffic-snarled road trip from JFK to midtown Manhattan.
Penn plays the cab driver, who engages his passenger in small talk that gradually becomes more revealing. Johnson plays the young woman who is navigating an affair with a married father and who clearly has misgivings about it. Penn, whose character seems to have as many miles on him as his old yellow cab, has wisdom to spare but is also prodded to realize certain things about himself. It is a remarkable economy of setting, the propulsion being two strong performances and one traffic jam.
The driver is never dishing judgment and it becomes clear from their back and forth that there is a reason he’s hustling rides late into the evening, and not home with a family. A frequent comment at both Telluride and Toronto is that Daddio marks Oscar winner Penn’s best acting work in a long time, as he has been involved with directing and with humanitarian work in far-flung places like Ukraine and Haiti, through his CORE organization (he directed the Ukraine under siege by Russia documentary Superpower). Johnson more than holds her own from the backseat of the cab.
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Daddio is repped by CAA Media Finance and WME Independent, and several suitors stepped up. The picture was signed to SAG-AFTRA interim agreement that allowed the two stars to come to Toronto.
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Hercules Film Fund, TeaTime Pictures, First Love Films, Raindrop Valley, Projected Picture Works and Rhea Films produced. Hall and Johnson produced with Emma Tillinger Koskoff, Ro Donnelly, Terry Dougas and Paris Kassidokostas-Latsis. Executive producers are Jean-Luc De Fanti, Max Work, Kostas Tsoukalas and Christopher Donnelly.