As debut feature Return does festival rounds, Johnson gears up to direct Mark Jude Poirier’s adaptation of Alice Munro’s 2001 short story Hateship, Friendship, Courtship and Loveship.

Director Liza Johnson has boarded Mark Jude Poirier’s adaptation of Alice Munro’s short story Hateship, Friendship, Courtship and Loveship, replacing Noam Murro who was originally slated to direct.

“I’m excited about a script that Mark Jude Poirier wrote, which I will direct,” said Johnson at the recent Deauville American Film Festival where Return was in competition.

“It’s an awkward romance about a worn-down woman who works as a nanny and a housekeeper, and has no needs or desires of her own, until she falls for a trick that the kids play on her – after which her desire lights on fire,” explained Johnson.

“Mark’s script has a beautiful tone, like a lot of Alice Munro’s writing— it’s a strong, forward-moving story that focuses on the small turns of everyday life in a way that makes them astonishing and lovely,” she said.

Novelist and screenwriter Poirier previously adapted his eponymous novel Smart People for the 2008 production starring Dennis Quaid and Sarah Jessica Parker.

Johnson added that she is currently working on casting with agents Kerry Barden and Paul Schnee, who also cast Return. Dylan Sellers is producing the film.

The director also revealed that she is reworking her own original script The Second Woman, which she wrote before Return.

“It’s a character drama and a bit of a thriller— a man disappears, leaving the two unconnected points of a love triangle alone together. It has two great roles for women of different generations,” said Johnson.

“Both films are actor-focused, performance-driven films, so I think it will be easy to see a link to Return,” she added.

Return, which premiered in Cannes Directors’ Fortnight this year, stars Linda Cardellini as a woman struggling to return to civilian life in a small Ohio town after a tour of military duty in the Middle East, opposite Michael Shannon as her husband and John Slattery as a war veteran friend.