Upon finishing up her junior year in college, Esther Greenwood lands a highly sought after summer internship at a fashion magazine in New York City. While living in the city, Greenwood becomes quite disoriented as the summer passes, revealing an inner turmoil rooted the death of her father when she was nine years old. Her environment becomes unbearable as she feels an immense pressure to conform to a mold of womanhood that she doesn't seem to fit. At the end of her internship, Esther returns home to the suburbs of Boston to begin her fall semester in school, on the brink of a collapse. After an attempted suicide, Greenwood is admitted into a psychiatric hospital to begin her journey to mental wellbeing and self-discovery. The SAG Award-nominated Dakota Fanning will thrive in this role; we've seen her play conflicted young women before in dramas like The Runaways.
Doreen, Esther's best friend at her internship, is sure to be along for the ride in this film. Doreen's rebellious spirit and against the grain attitude is something that Esther admires. Although sometimes troublesome, Doreen enjoys a freedom in straying away from societal conventions. We'd like to nominate American actress Malese Jow, who played a similar role in 2010's The Social Network, as Doreen.
Doctor Nolan treats Esther in the psychiatric hospital that she is admitted to. Esther finds that Dr. Nolan is a rare balance of the beauty and femininity that society expects of a woman with strong intellect and professional ability. Dr. Nolan and Esther develop a strong bond and understanding that helps Esther to make major strides in her recovery. The incredibly talented Halle Berry has shone time and time again her ability as empowered leading woman, and we'd love to see her give life to Dr. Nolan.
Mrs. Greenwood, Esther's mother, is one of the many stresses in Esther's life. A traditionalist, Mrs. Greenwood urges her daughter to confirm to a more socially accepted version of womanhood. Not only does Esther feel completely disconnected from her mother, she is also part of the reason Esther has a mental breakdown. American-British actress Gillian Anderson, with her wide ranging ability, could give a really moving performance in this role as she did as Nora in the Donmar Warehouse's 2009 production of A Doll's House and, more recently, as Blanche DuBois in A Streetcar Named Desire.
Esther's boyfriend, Buddy Willard, plays an important role in her self-discovery. He wants Esther to fit the same, conventional mold as her mother does. After realizing that her relationship with Buddy is toxic, Esther struggles to end it when he is then diagnosed with tuberculosis. Ansel Elgort, who played the romantic lead in The Fault in Our Stars (2014) would be perfect as Buddy opposite Fanning.
Philomena Guinea, a scholarship donor who funded part of Esther's college tuition, also becomes an unexpected friend. Philomena reveals that she was in an asylum herself at one point, and pays for Esther's stay at the psychiatric hospital. The accomplished British actress Helen Mirren would be quite picturesque in this role, and would undoubtably give a memorable performance.