Niki Caro to direct 'Buttercup'

Dramedy from scribes Brian Koppelman, David Levien

"Whale Rider" helmer Niki Caro is taking a sip from the "Buttercup," signing to direct the dramedy being produced by Michael London's Groundswell Prods.

"Ocean's Thirteen" writers Brian Koppelman and David Levien, meanwhile, also have boarded the project as producers.

Sarah Polley had at one point been attached to direct "Buttercup," which centers on a middle-age man who has made a mess of his life but after the death of his wife -- and with the help of his adult daughter -- attempts to get that life back in order. Alice O'Neil penned the script.

The production is out to cast, with producers hoping to lock in talent for the two-hander shortly.

Despite the dramatic subject matter, the project contains elements of comedy that humanize the protagonists. "Alice writes with such a light touch, which is what makes you want to take a journey with the characters," Koppelman said.

London and Koppelman/Levien have collaborated previously, most notably on "The Illusionist," the $40 million Ed Norton breakout from 2006.

Groundswell has a number of projects set to be released, including the Steven Soderbergh-Matt Damon comedic thriller "The Informant," which Warner Bros. will open in the fall.

Koppelman and Levien most recently are behind the Soderbergh-produced "Solitary Man," which they directed from a script by Koppelman. The Michael Douglas starrer, about a car exec who sees his life unravel, will debut at the Toronto International Film Festival.

The ICM-repped Caro, known for writing and directing the 2002 breakout "Whale Rider," also helmed the sexual-harassment drama "North Country," which grossed $18 million domestically in 2005. She also will unspool her period French wine tale "The Vintner's Luck" at Toronto.

Steven Zeitchik reported from New York; Borys Kit reported from Los Angeles.