[UPDATE: Watch the trailer for The Beguiled, above!]
Oscar-winning screenwriter and director Sofia Coppola is exploring her first period setting since Marie Antionette for her upcoming feature The Beguiled. This time, Civil War-era Virginia, where an isolated girls boarding school is home to an expectedly stellar cast of actresses in ethereal, floaty dresses.
Some new images from The Beguiled (2017) have now been released, showcasing Coppola’s recognisable dreamy cinematographic style superimposed over the film’s southern gothic backdrop. These photos also provide the opportunity to see the movie’s cast immersed fully in this world.
Focus Features’ The Beguiled is an adaptation of a 1966 novel by Thomas Cullinan. Coppola’s version will apparently differ from the 1971, Clint Eastwood-headlined movie adaptation – by focusing the narrative from the perspective of the story’s female characters. These women will be represented by a triple generational selection of talented character actresses; Nicole Kidman (Martha), Elle Fanning (Carol) and Coppola’s often muse, Kirsten Dunst (Edwina). The narrative features a secluded and neglected school that has remained largely unaffected by the violence and chaos of the war-torn South, until a wounded soldier (played by Colin Farrell) is suddenly within their midst.
EW has debuted a handful of images from The Beguiled, which you can check out in the gallery below. In addition, here’s a quote from Coppola about the project:
“I haven’t really done a genre film…… It was fun to figure out how to approach that but still [keep the film] in my style, and to have this kind of beautiful, dreamy world that I like — but with a plot!”
The director also revealed the aspects that drew her to the project; including the chance to creatively explore the aesthetics of the setting, and the complex relationships between a group of women, disrupted by the introduction of a male personality:
“It’s just trying to create that atmosphere, so you can feel these long, hot days when not much is happening….. I liked that [the costumes] had been washed a million times and left out in the sun. It just felt very feminine, almost like they were ghosts left behind….. Just girls in white nightgowns and candelabras was really fun for me,”
“The main crux of the story is about the dynamics between a group of women all stuck together, and then also the power shifts between men and women….. So for me, it’s very universal, but it’s in this exotic setting of the Southern gentility.”
Coppola is known for favoring enigmatic characters portrayed with emotional distance from the audience, that are juxterposed with a contrastingly sensual visual landscape that communicates on their behalf. This filmmaking tendency should fit well with a simmering narrative of underlying tension that will allow for unspoken dialogue and a heavy dose of nuance. It will be interesting to see how the director explores the darker aspects of the storyline – provided by the roguish charisma of Farrell and the ensuing seduction and jealousy his character is set to provoke.
With such a thoughtfully-chosen cast and the opportunity for visual splendor that is teased with these images, The Beguiled has the elements required to be an atmospherically captivating and sophisticated affair – as long as Coppola refrains from becoming overly sentimental towards her quest for cinematographic beauty at the cost of narrative functionality ( as is the risk for any director with such distinguishable style). The themes of remoteness and exploration of the female character are well within her comfort zone, so this film should appeal to fans of her filmmaking style, and hopefully a wider audience too.
The Beguiled arrives June 23rd, 2017.