what we know about k-stew’s bisexual coming-of-age movie

She spilled some more juicy details on her directorial debut in her Vanity Fair cover story

by Douglas Greenwood
31 July 2019, 10:06am

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This article originally appeared on i-D UK.

Nobody in film has had a career reinvention quite like Kristen Stewart has. 12 years ago, she was the butt of every teen movie gag, looked down upon by snooty movie critics for playing the lovestruck high school star of Twilight who became enamoured by her vampire classmate and, eventually, having his weird half-human, half-bloodsucker baby. That’s the downside of being part of a youth sensation, I guess: it’s hard for the awards-friendly arthouse world to take you seriously after its run its course.

Thankfully, both K-Stew and her former co-star Robert Pattinson have found their footing in the hip film world quite comfortably now. R-Patz can be seen hurtling through space in French auteur Clare Denis’s High Life, while Kristen has become the muse of fawned over directors like Olivier Assayas, who directed her in the brilliant horror-fashion crossover Personal Shopper.

"I grew up watching fucking American Pie, these dudes jacking off in their socks like it was the most normal thing, and it was hilarious. Imagine a girl coming -- it’s like, what, so scary and bizarre.”

But it’s likely that Kristen will be getting a muse of her own in the very near future, as work has begun on her feature length directorial debut. Having impressed the right people with her St Vincent-scored short film Come Swim in 2017, she’s about to start shooting its much meatier follow-up, titled The Chronology of Water.

So what’s it about? Why was she drawn to it? Will she star in it? And how the hell did one of the most in-demand actors of her generation manage to take the time to write a whole damn movie script? Well, here’s our rundown on what the world knows about The Chronology of Water so far.

It’s based on an author’s heartbreaking memoirs
The source material that struck a chord with Kristen came to her in a strange work of fate: she wasn’t looking for it, it simply fell into the ‘recommended’ list on her Kindle. Lidia Yuknavitch’s memoir, The Chronology of Water, tells the story of a young girl growing up on America’s east coast. Her sights are set on becoming a champion swimmer, but she struggles with the violence at the hands of her dad at home. Her mother, usually a teenager’s rock, is a careless addict, and the all-consuming nature of her fractured upbringing almost drives her to despair, though she heals herself by understanding both her power as an artist and her sexual autonomy. By the sounds of it, Lidia’s story is practically begging for the movie treatment.

And focuses on its lead character’s fledgling sexuality
Perhaps the most alluring element of the story to Kristen was how the lead character balanced all of her tragedies with the dissection of its lead character’s sexuality. Lidia’s book is harnessed by her attraction to both men and women and her unabashed approach to expressing that. In the book, Lidia holds nothing back in describing how she discovered her body as a teenager. “The way that she’s really dirty, embarrassing, weird, gross, a girl. It was a coming-of-age story I [hadn’t] seen yet,” Kristen told Durga Chew-Bose in her September Vanity Fair profile. Boys, on the other hand, had been handed wanking heroes constantly, ever since the 90s teen movie boom. “I grew up watching fucking American Pie, these dudes jacking off in their socks like it was the most normal thing, and it was hilarious. Imagine a girl coming -- it’s like, what, so scary and bizarre,” she added. It’s no surprise that she’s set out to write what she told IndieWire would be “the best fucking female role” to undo those years of patriarchal bullshit.

She’s taken her time with it
Kristen first announced the film at the Cannes Film Festival in 2018, when she was on the festival’s competition jury. At the time, she was putting the finishing touches to the script and was starting to field an actor that she felt was worthy of playing such a complex central character. All the plans were in place to shoot it last summer. But then came silence. The past year has been such a blur for her, and she’s shot three movies which are now ready to be released: the reboot of Charlie’s Angels, a film about Hollywood starlet Jean Seberg (in which she plays the lead), and a mysterious thriller called Underwater. Either her writing work went on hold, or she’s spent the time in between researching and re-writing the script. It sounds like it’s paid off though. According to Durga Chew-Bose’s Vanity Fair profile, she read her most recent draft to Lidia and her husband, “who both then cried and held each other while Stewart threw her tattered copy of the book across the room”.

She lived in a van in Portland while writing the script
At the deepest point of her script-writing journey, Kristen upped sticks from LA and moved to Portland with her dog Cole. Together, they lived in the same area as Lidia to soak in the atmosphere of her story. Sometimes, perhaps in a strange effort to absorb up some of Lidia’s energy, Kristen and her pup slept in a Sprinter van outside of the author’s house too.

No word on a lead star yet
Now Kristen has settled back in LA and wrapped the final draft, she no longer has any imminent acting roles in the pipeline. It seems as though The Chronology of Water might be her next big priority. Still, we’re yet to catch wind of who’s going to be playing that wild lead role. Those hoping this might be another game-changing role for Kristen though, think again. It seems she’s set on sticking behind the camera this time around. As she told IndieWire last year: “I’m going to write a role that I want so badly – but that I’m not going to play.” She really is taking this director’s lifestyle seriously.

This article originally appeared on i-D UK.

coming of age
Kristen Stewart