The first trailer for Sofia Coppola’s remake of The Beguiled dropped yesterday and her two muses, Kirsten Dunst (Marie Antoinette, The Virgin Suicides) and Elle Fanning, shared snippets of it on their Instagram pages along with the caption “vengeful bitches.”
The Beguiled looks great and maintains the simmering suspense we’ve come to expect from Sofia’s films: When will The Bling Ring get caught? They can’t possibly experience those burglary highs forever. When will Charlotte decide she’s had enough of her detached tourist experiences in Japan in Lost in Translation, and when will she decide to reach out for real intimacy and human connection with an unlikely partner-in-crime?
This time, Sofia examines the loneliness, seclusion and wanderlust women can feel in a whole different way. Set around 1864, the film focuses on what happens to a wounded Union soldier (Colin Farrell) when he is taken in by the sinister headmistress of a Virginia boarding school (Nicole Kidman) near the climax of the Civil War. Nicole plays Miss Martha and gets a little too close to Colin’s character while cleaning him up with a sponge bath (00:27). Kirsten plays one of Miss Martha’s teachers, Edwina, who longs “to be taken far away from here” and sees him as her possible ticket out. But it’s Elle Fanning who plays the flirtatious Alicia, who gets the most provocative line of the trailer, and says, “We could show him some real Southern hospitality.” Colin’s John McBurney seduces the three women who are starved for male attention and an escape from their reality, ripping their blouses (01:14) and slowly, he turns them against each other as he recovers.
But by the end of the teaser, the tables appear to have turned. Colin’s John blurts out the line popularized by Kirsten and Elle on their social media accounts, and yells, “What have you done to me? You vengeful bitches!”
The Beguiled is based on the 1966 novel A Painted Devil and is a remake of the 1971 film of the same name. Then, Clint Eastwood, Geraldine Page, Elizabeth Hartman and Jo Ann Harris played the roles taken on by Colin, Nicole, Kirsten and Elle. Sofia tells Entertainment Weekly the film is “very universal, but it’s in this exotic setting of the Southern gentility.”
“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.”
Nicole’s Miss Martha maintains the stern, steely and sinister resolve and control over the group similar to what Sarah Paulson showed off in 12 Years a Slave. And Elle’s Alicia seems pretty akin to Brooke Shields in Pretty Baby, but with less innocence.
This is a movie we should start celebrating early. AwardsDaily’s Sasha Stone points out that not only is the film written and directed by a woman, but it has a female-dominated crew. The film editor, production designer, costume designer and heads of the art decoration and set decoration departments are all women.
The Beguiled hits theatres in a limited release on June 23, the same day Transformers: The Last Knight comes out. Unlike the latest Transformers film, this one is likely Cannes-bound, and wouldn’t it be great if it, in some capacity, could somehow challenge Mark Wahlberg and Michael Bay at the box office? Robots aside, what’s more explosive than a women-centric story and how they’re torn apart or united against the man they originally set out to nurture, but later choose to hold captive?
Will they walk the carpet together in May? Could Nicole be Sofia’s new muse?
PS. Location fact: The Beguiled was shot at the same plantation as Lemonade.