As the daughter of Francis Ford Coppola, Sofia Coppola has had to face her share of cynicism over the years. Anyone whose father churns out films like The Godfather I and II will forever remain in the shadow of such immense achievements and the talent that spawned them. Despite her years of work as an accomplished filmmaker – as well as being an Oscar-winning screenwriter – Sofia Coppola still faces the inevitable direct comparisons with her father.
After breaking through with 2003’s Lost in Translation, many felt that Coppola was moving in a direction that, if not reminiscent of her father’s success, was branching off into something equally new and exciting. Thirteen years on from Lost in Translation, Coppola still hasn’t managed to recreate the lightning in a bottle that was responsible for one of Bill Murray’s finest dramatic performances to date. Though she’s certainly made an effort with her last three films since Lost in Translation, it appears she’s still working toward her next big achievement.
As it happens, Universal Pictures has just issued a press release revealing that the filming of Coppola’s next project, a remake of Clint Eastwood’s 1971 film, The Beguiled, is currently underway in Louisiana. The Civil War era tale will star Colin Farrell (Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them), Nicole Kidman (Lion, Genius), Kirsten Dunst (Fargo, Midnight Special), Elle Fanning (The Neon Demon) and is set for a limited theatrical release on June 23rd, 2017, before going wide a week later.
Although it was Clint Eastwood who first brought The Beguiled to the silver screen, the film is actually an adaptation of a novel by Thomas Cullinan. The story follows John McBurney (Farrell), a Union soldier wounded during the Civil War in Virginia. After taking refuge at The Miss Martha Farnsworth Seminary for Young Ladies, one by one the young women of the seminary begin to fall in love with McBurney, ultimately turning the girls against each other. The Beguiled marks Coppola’s first film since 2013’s The Bling Ring and the fourth collaboration to date between Coppola and Kirsten Dunst.
Perhaps one of the most often-voiced complaints about Coppola’s filmmaking is that her films tend to focus exclusively on wealthy, privileged segments of the population and the somewhat trivial problems they encounter. While a case could be made for this, it is a rather reductive argument. Coppola’s work more often than not explores the fraternity between people (usually women), who find themselves living on the fringes of society as a result of their affluence and position, but not enjoying it. These characters are then portrayed as lost and lonely, giving audiences the opportunity to see beyond a veneer of wealthy privilege.
As with Marie Antoinette – Coppola’s 2006 follow up to Lost in Translation – The Beguiled will be sure to utilize the filmmaker’s keen eye for period era beauty and costume design. Coppola’s films have all been particularly strong in terms of cinematography – and if The Beguiled is able to pair an engaging visual aesthetic with a solid narrative, 2017 could be the year where one of the most promising American filmmakers of the past twenty years gets back to form.
The Beguiled will open in select U.S. theaters on June 23rd, 2017 and nationwide a week later on June 30th.