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Career > > 2012 > Foster


April 04, 2012 | Screen Media Films | 90 minutes
Directed by: Jonathan Newman | Written by: Jonathan Newman | Cinematography: Dirk Nel | Editing: Eddie Hamilton | Costume Design: Annie Hardinge | Production Design: James Lewis | Music: Mark Thomas
Zooey (Toni Collette) and Alec (Ioan Gruffud) are struggling to bridge the painful gap that is developing between them. Unable to conceive, they await confirmation of a child to foster. One day, a seven years old boy called Eli (Maurice Cole) appears on their doorstep quite mysteriously, explaining the foster agency has sent him. The boy is old beyond his years and it becomes apparent that he is the listening ear amongst the couple's marriage breakdown. Eli offers moral support and idealistic suggestions to his foster parents on how to repair and re-kindle their love for each other.
Cast: Toni Collette (Zooey), Ioan Gruffudd (Alec), Maurice Cole (Eli), Hayley Mills (Mrs Lange), Richard E. Grant (Mr Potts), Anne Reid (Diane), Daisy Beaumont (Sarah), Bobby Smalldridge (Samuel)

Production Notes

Jonathan Newman directed an award winning short version of the film in 2005 which was sold to HBO and BBC. As Newman explains “Foster began life as a short film which I made in 2005. Cut to five years later and here we are with a feature film!” Introducing the film, Newman says “Alec and Zooey Morrison,played by Toni Collette and Ioan Gruffudd are a coup le whose relationship is on the rocks. When we come into their lives in the beginning of the film, they are a couple who are struggling with their relationship. At the same time, his business, a toy manufacturing business he inherited from his father, is also going downhill mainly due to the economy and also the crisis which happened in their life about two years ago, which was the tragic loss of their son. This little boy Eli suddenly comes into their life and is the catalyst in causing transformation.” Newman knew who he wanted to play the parts straightaway. “I have always been an enormous fan of Toni Collette ever since I saw her in Muriel’s Wedding and then I watched her in numerous films including About a Boy, the Sixth Sense and Little Miss Sunshine. She’s got the most incredible emotional range which she seems to be able to access quite easily. She was my first choice and I was just delighted that she accepted and I think after that it was very easy to assemble the rest of the cast. We had a good script, we had Toni attached and then Ioan came on board.” Eli is played by seven year-old Maurice Cole who plays the part with great maturity as Newman explains, “It’s a very big role for a seven year old to have to tackle especially because he’s got some very complicated dialogue – he’s using dialogue that adults use. He really rose to the challenge, at one point I think he’s talking about the recession and sub-prime mortgages and it’s phenomenal to hear that kind of dialogue coming out of a seven year old’s mouth.”

Zooey is eager to mend what’s gone wrong and is desperate to have another child because she’s looking for ways to bring a child into their lives. Alec has shut down and is completely closed. I suppose if you go through something like losing a child, it’s going to be very intense emotionally and people deal with it in different ways and you see him re-emerge throughout the film. His initial response to having Eli in his life is that he doesn’t want him there at all but he goes through the motions for his wife who he can see is more enthusiastic and eventually he’s infected. (Toni Collette, Production Notes)

Mr Potts, played by Richard E. Grant whose most notable role came in the film Withnail and I plays a rather mysterio us character who lives in Chelsea Gardens. Newman tells us, “We first meet him in the film when Zooey takes Eli for a walk into the gardens and Mr Potts is there and chats to them. In the beginning she is a bit taken aback by this homeless man who has started up a conversation with her but as we progress with the story he appears more and more and gives advice to the characters. There is one really lovely scene where Alec, trying to forget his troubles, goes into Chelsea gardens and finds Mr Potts and spots a swarm of fireflies and sits next to him and has a conversation. They just sit in the moonlight and fireflies fly away into the night sky. There’s a little bit more to Mr Potts than meets the eye.” There are many hidden messages in the film, one of which is summed up very eloquently by Mr Potts. As Newman explains, “Mr Potts is talking about not living life in the past and ultimately, the message in this film is about living life in the present because everything passes you by. Ultimately the characters are stagnated by the trauma that happened in their lives a couple of years before and as a result are unable to move forward in their lives. When Eli comes into their lives and causes this transformation, they’re able to really connect with the present.”

Newman tells us what he is most proud of in the film: “I think for me a really good film starts with the script and we put a lot of work and thought into the script and I was very happy with it before we started production. To be able to work with amazing actors and see the incredible performances that they delivered and being able to bring these characters to life has been great. I made the film the way I wanted to make it and I believe it’s a credit to the cast and the performances.” When asked what type of audience Jonath an was aiming for, he reiterates just how crucial it is to think of your audience right at the very beginning: “that’s a discussion myself and Deepak had when we went into this and we said ‘who are we making this film for?’ and at the beginning that was an adult audience. However we thought that we would be excluding children and families if we just went down that road so we rethought it and I rewrote the scriptfor a family audience. I really feel not only adults but children alike will not only enjoy the film but also relate to it.” Newman is extremely proud of Fosters and he hopes that “the audience will come away with a sense of how important family is. Ultimately this is about a couple who transcend their past and the trauma of their past and resurrect their relationship so as a result it has a very uplifting message.”

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