Director Stephen Frears (The Queen) has a decade-spanning career whose credits have earned him two Oscar nominations to date, so it’s not surprising that his return behind the camera for the indie film, Lay The Favorite, is one of the films I’m most looking forward to this year.

The film stars Rebecca Hall, Bruce Willis, Vince Vaughn, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Joshua Jackson, Frank Grillo, and Laura Prepon, and it will be heading to this year’s Sundance Film Festival at the end of the month with one of the independent film festival’s biggest cast lists.

The first clip from the film has gone online over at EW, via Collider, and it shows us Hall as the main character, Beth Raymer, upon whose real-life memoir this film is based, cruising into Las Vegas with Bruce Willis, singing along to The Hollies’ The Air That I Breathe.

“Beth Raymer is a beautiful girl with a big heart who leaves her dancing job at a Florida strip club to become a Las Vegas cocktail waitress. Not exactly an ideal career choice, but her borderline-ditzy personality doesn’t give her many options. In walks Dink, a professional sports bettor who sees through her bubbly exterior and offers her a job placing wagers all over town to gain an advantage over the casinos. Her surprisingly impeccable mind for numbers soon cements her status as Dink’s good-luck charm, until his gorgeous-but-frigid wife, Tulip, starts to get jealous. Faced with no other choice but to fire Beth, Dink’s luck runs out when she heads to New York to work for a smarmy bookie, a turn of events that lands her squarely on the wrong side of the law.”

The comedy sees Frears reunite with his High Fidelity screenwriter D.V. DeVincentis, and that alone should be enough to convince you that this is going to be good. High Fidelity is one of my favourite films of all-time, and it would quite possibly rank in my Top 5 (if you know what I mean).

I thought Hall was so good in Ben Affleck’s The Town back in 2010, and am really looking forward to seeing her again in Lay The Favorite, especially amongst such a great cast. The film hasn’t yet had a release date scheduled, but hopefully it will do well at Sundance and secure a release soon after that. And with a bit of luck, it might be picked for one of the films brought over to London when Sundance comes to our shores in April. For now, here’s the first clip from the film, or click over to EW if you want it in better quality. For some reason, Willis’ role in it really reminds me of his guest appearances as Paul in Friends.

(N.B. I’m of course well aware that we spell it ‘favourite’ in this country, I just can’t remember whether spellings get altered in films’ titles when they’re released abroad. I guess we’ll find out when a UK poster hits later in the year.)

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