It’s not often you get to mention Sofia Coppola and Clint Eastwood in the same sentence, but today is one of those special days. Coppola has announced her next directorial project, The Beguiled — a remake of Don Siegel’s 1971 Civil War melodrama starring Eastwood —and joining her down the long road to the South is Kirsten Dunst, her long-time muse, Somewhere co-star Elle Fanning and first-time Coppola participant Nicole Kidman. Focus Features will produce and distribute. Expect some out-of-time period music cues along the way.
Tracking Board got the exclusive. The remake is Coppola’s first theatrical outing since 2013’s mixed bag The Bling Ring. It also comes after her Netflix-exclusive holiday special A Very Murray Christmas from last fall, which (in this humble writer’s opinion) was a mild return to form. This is the first project the Lost in Translation filmmaker has been attached to since she jumped ship from Universal’s live-action The Little Mermaid remake this past June.
Based on the Southern Gothic novel of the same name by Thomas P. Cullian, Coppola’s The Beguiled will tell a new take on the tale, which centers on a young girl from an all-female boarding school who crosses paths with an injured Union solider. As the school takes him in for recovery, he quickly works his charm on all the ladies, and soon they fight one another to earn his attention. This male character was played by, of course, Eastwood in Siegel’s film, and the producers are currently looking for a “Chris Pratt type” to fill his war-torn shoes.
Meanwhile, Kidman is set to play Martha Farnsworth, the Head Mistress of the school whom Academy Award-winner Geraldine Page played in the original. Fanning, meanwhile, plays a girl residing in the house, while Dunst plays one of their teachers. This marks the latter’s third collaboration with the filmmaker, behind The Virgin Suicides and Marie Antoinette.
In addition to directing, Coppola will also write this new film, and produce it alongside her brother, Roman. Though the time period is unfamiliar to the auteur, the material sounds exactly in her wheelhouse, and hopefully she’ll find a way to make it not quite as vapid and airy as her last couple features (unfortunately) have been. There’s room for subtext and character analyzing on par with her first two films here, but whether or not she lives up to that challenge is anyone’s guess. We might be looking at a losing battle here, but I’m holding out hope.