EXCLUSIVE: Film4 has acquired rights to Bernard MacLaverty’s just-published novel Midwinter Break with Brooklyn helmer John Crowley set to direct. MacLaverty will handle the adaptation of the story about a couple out of their element which is also a hopeful portrait of love’s complexity. Guy Heeley is producing under his Shoebox Films banner. The project is on Crowley’s dance card after he finishes work on The Goldfinch, the Peter Straughan adaptation of Donna Tartt’s Pulitzer Prize-winning book.

Midwinter Break is centered on a retired couple, Gerry and Stella Gilmore, who fly from their home in Scotland to Amsterdam for a long weekend. A holiday to refresh the senses, do some sightseeing and generally take stock of what remains of their lives, the four-day sojourn will reveal deep uncertainties that exist between the Gilmores.

Gerry, once an architect, is forgetful and set in his ways. Stella is tired of his lifestyle, worried about their marriage and angry at his constant undermining of her religious faith. Things are not helped by memories which have begun to resurface of a troubled time in their native Ireland. As their midwinter break comes to an end, we understand how far apart they are — and can only watch as they struggle to save themselves.

MacLaverty is regarded as one of the greatest living Irish writers and Midwinter Break has received strong notices. He’s written five collections of stories and four other novels, including Grace Notes which was shortlisted for the Booker Prize and won the Saltire Scottish Book of the Year Award.

Heeley’s previous credits include Steven Knight’s terrific Tom Hardy-starrer Locke which premiered here at the Venice Film Festival in 2013. He’s currently on Knight’s Serenity and has Dominic Savage’s The Escape in post.

Of Crowley, Film4 chief Daniel Battsek says, “John is one of those filmmakers who I’ve intersected with, but haven’t worked with, for a while. I admire him hugely and feel like this is a tremendous addition to our slate.”

Crowley is represented by Casarotto Ramsay & Associated Limited and WME.