Lisa Cholodenko to take on “The Abstinence Teacher”

The Kids Are All Right writer/director Lisa Cholodenko has found her next project: She’ll be directing the film adaptation of The Abstinence Teacher, based on the Tom Perrotta novel of the same name.

The 2007 best-seller is about Ruth Ramsey, sex education teacher in New Jersey who battles with a conservative school system and parents to teach teenagers the realities of sexual relationships. She ends up romancing a born-again Christian soccer coach, which makes things harder on her when it comes to small town politics.

The film was originally purchased by Warner Bros. before it was published, with Little Miss Sunshine directors Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris signed on, and casting was said to include Sandra Bullock and Steve Carrell. It looks like that is no longer happening, though, and Cholodenko is starting fresh.

She will be the third director to take on an adaptation of a Perrotta book, as his earlier novels, Election and Little Children, have both been successful on the big screen, though not without some alterations.

There is one lesbian in the novel named CJ, who is described as “mannish” and is pretty much a bit part, so no guarantees she’ll make it to the celluloid version. But there is a lot about homophobia and other gay themes in The Abstinence Teacher, as Ruth is attempting to tell kids like it is in the real world, which is something their parents and the town’s conservative groups are not interested in them knowing about.

This could be Cholodenko’s first film without any specific lesbian scenes, but it still has a similar theme to the kind of stories she likes to tell: Female-focused trials of figuring out one’s self without getting wrapped up in who the world around you is telling you to be.

Not much else is known about production at this point, but we’ll keep you posted. Who would you love to see play Ruth, the steadfast sex ed teacher?

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