The Beguiled: Press conference with Sofia Coppola, Nicole Kidman, Colin Farrell and Kirsten DunstCannes Film Festival 2017
The Beguiled might have been made by Don Siegel in 1971, starring Clint Eastwood, but Sofia Coppola is keen to insist that her new version – starring Colin Farrell, Nicole Kidman, Kirsten Dunst and Elle Fanning – is not a remake. “I tried to put [Siegel’s] film out of my mind and just do my own thing… The premise is so interesting [but] the original movie is from a male point of view. So I wanted to tell the same story from the women’s point of view – imagine what it was like for the women at the time.”
It’s an atmospheric Gothic fable, set in the South during the dying days of the American Civil War, and sees Farrell’s wounded union soldier nursed back to health by the inhabitants of an all-female boarding school. The dynamic of the women is stronger than in the original – there is a sad sense of kinship and love united by suffering, reminiscent of Coppola’s earlier film The Virgin Suicides. Kidman, on her matriarchal figure, said, “She comes from a place of love… Her motivation is to protect them, to guide them, so that when the war does end, they’re capable”. On the disruptive presence of Farrell’s soldier, she added: “We were fine. He came in and ruined everything…I mean, we couldn’t procreate, but we were fine”.
Farrell himself was a good sport when Coppola referred to him as a “token male”. He said that he “grew up with three very smart, strong women in my life – my mother and two sisters – so it was an honour on this shoot to be surrounded by such passionate, smart female voices… It was my favourite experience, my favourite shoot”. All the actors seemed united in their praise of their director, with Dunst saying “I would do anything with Sofia…if she handed me the phonebook, I’d say ‘Let’s do it!’”.
And inevitably, the subject of Coppola being outnumbered by male filmmakers came up. Kidman made reference to the fact that, on the highest-grossing features of 2016, only 4% were directed by women: “We have to support female directors… People say “It’s so different now” – it isn’t!… We need stories, we need opportunities, the world is changing and we have to change with it.”
Photo: Matthias Nareyek / Stringer / Getty Images
Read our review of The Beguiled here.
Read more of our reviews and interviews from the festival here.
For further information about Cannes Film Festival 2017 visit here.