Alessandro Nivola Replaces Michael Fassbender in Jim Thompson-like Thriller, 'A Single Shot'

Though Michael Fassbender has taken a carpe diem approach to the sudden thermonuclear gust of career heat and filled his schedule with more meaty starring roles than he can handle -- including Ridley Scott's "Prometheus," "X-Men: First Class," and "A Dangerous Method," David Cronenberg's adaptation of John Kerr's non-fiction book about Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung's rivalry -- his cup still overfloweth.

That kind of embarrassment of riches might have been mighty irksome to other less fortunate members of Hollywood's next generation if  everyone didn't stand to benefit from some trickle-down success. For instance, when Fassbender backed out of his commitment to star in Matthew F. Jones' adaptation of his own novel, A Single ShotAlessandro Nivola leapt into the fray, signing on to produce and star in the project about a down-on-his-luck divorcee who accidentally shoots a runaway and happens upon a sackful of cash while trying to hide the evidence. The ensuing cat and mouse game sends the dead-beat protagonist on the run from the homicidal lunatics combines shades of Cormac McCarthy's No Country for Old Men and Jim Thompson-esque noir.

Even without Fassbender, the project comes loaded with high-pedigree arthouse talent. Director David M. Rosenthal established his artistic bonafides when his critically acclaimed 2009 mumblecore romance, "Falling Up" became an underground hit among cineastes and college kids. As a result, Rosenthal has attracted a cast with a surplus of talent, including Nivola's wife, Emily Mortimer; current indie It Girl, Juno Temple; former indie It Girl, Lili Taylor; Oscar winner Forest Whitaker; and the never not-good character actor, William H. Macy.  In other words, odds are higher than usual that this film won't suck. In fact, we'll go so far as to say it good a chance as any to end up in the mix at Sundance and/or the Indie Spirit Awards a year from now.

So because Fassbender resisted the urge to bogart all the roles producers are flinging at him right now, everybody comes away a winner. Nivola, finally scored the long-overdue opportunity to tear into a juicy porterhouse steak of a role and let rip with his bad self. We've been waiting for him to bust a move since he played Frances McDormand's rockstar boy toy in 2002's "Laurel Canyon." Fassbender avoids risking overexposure. And, if all goes well, moviegoers get to add another name to the list of offbeat leading men who can be counted on to bring the goods to whatever they do. Off the top of our heads, that highbrow stud club currently includes Christian Bale, James Franco, Joseph Gordon Levitt, Ryan Gosling, Andrew Garfield, Jesse Eisenberg. Is there anyone else whose taste and talent you trust as implicitly as these guys?

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