Nuala Ellwood's 2017 debut novel My Sister's Bones was a surprise bestseller right out of the gate. The story of a veteran Iraq and Syrian war reporter suffering from PTSD heading home to Kent after a long stint in Aleppo after the passing of her mother was an introspective thriller, informed in part by Ellwood's own experience growing up in a family of war reporters who carried as many scars as the fighters they covered. At the time, Ellwood said her lead character was mostly inspired by the late Marie Colvin, an American journalist who worked for the British newspaper The Sunday Times from 1985 until her assassination in Syria in 2012.
The novel was optioned pretty quickly for the big screen, the rights snatched up by Bill Kenwright Films from Marc Simonsson (SoloSon Media) on behalf of publisher Madeleine Milburn Ltd. However, the project dipped under the radar after that and was lost in the shuffle of pandemic projects until recently. In March 2023, the film resurfaced, with Madeleine Milburn Ltd putting out a press release on behalf of the production team confirming filming on the project had wrapped. That was accompanied by the release of first-look photos as well as the full cast list.
Here is the forthcoming film's synopsis:
The film opens in a bleak police station where celebrated war correspondent Kate Rafter faces questions from a psychiatrist, Dr. Shaw, as they work through the painful events of Rafter’s life. A horrific incident in war-torn Iraq and the death of her mother have brought a haunted Rafter home to Herne Bay, a place she believed she had escaped forever. Her resentful sister has not made her sister welcome, and her forbearing husband, Paul, fails to broker peace. Whilst packing up her mother’s belongings from her childhood home, Rafter comes to believe there is something strange and terrifying happening in the house next door. Is the house harboring dark secrets, or is the trauma of Kate’s wartime experiences finally catching up with her?
The cast stars Jenny Seagrove (Endeavour) as war correspondent Kate Rafter, Anna Friel (Marcella) as Kate's sister, and Ben Miles (The Crown) as Kate's brother-in-law, Paul. Olga Kurylenko (Black Widow), also co-stars as Dr. Shaw, Kate's psychiatrist. The supporting cast includes Maggie Steed (Ten Percent), as Kate's late mother, and David Bradley (Doctor Who) in an undisclosed role. Heidi Greensmith (Winter) helmed the film, this is her second big-screen feature film project. Naomi Gibney (Devils) adapted the novel with the project executive produced by David Gilbery (The Lost Daughter) and Naomi George (My Pure Land) from BKStudios.
My Sister's Bones does not yet have a distributor for either side of the pond, but the completed project is expected to be picked up in the next few months and arrive in theaters by 2024.