Variety reported this morning that Sopranos and Rescue Me writer Michael Caleo has been hired to adapted Malavita, a French crime novel, for Luc Besson's EuropaCorp. The novel -- not yet available in English, at least not in the US -- tells the story of "an American mob boss in the Witness Protection Program who's hiding with his family in the Normandy region of France," and starts to "[impose] his will on the small, unsuspecting town he lives in." Now, while I've not read Malavita (that's the cover up there, by the way), I have read two of author Tonino Benacquista other books and, if you're a fan of hard-boiled crime novels and films, it's time to get excited. Though the two novels I've read take on totally different subjects, they share a dark sensibility, great characterizations, and a sneaky sense of humor. Plus, Benacquista actually spent some time in film school before turning to writing for a career, and there are moments in his books so visual they practically film themselves.

Now, Caleo has already made it clear that his screenplay will NOT be strictly faithful to the book -- he plans to focus more on the efforts of its character's former associates to track him down, and less on the fish-out-of-water storyline -- so what shows up on screen will obviously not be entirely dependent on Benacquista. That said, however, Caleo's previous work shows that he's abundantly familiar with the world in which the writer works; on paper, it looks like Besson's hired the perfect man to write his screenplay.

The film is expected to mix English and French fairly equally, something that might make it more appealing to US distributors when the time comes.