The Beguiled, the Civil War behind closed doors

Film still of The Beguiled © Focus Features

As a member of the Feature Films Jury, presided over by Jane Campion in 2014, Sofia Coppola had shared some personal memories as she talked about her first Cannes in 1979, on the shoulders of her father Francis Ford, when he won the Palme d'Or for Apocalypse Now. Today, in contention for this same award, she presents The Beguiled, a thriller adapted from Don Siegel's film of the same name, released in 1971 and starring Clint Eastwood.

The trio of leading women made up of Nicole Kidman, Kirsten Dunst and Elle Fanning, are given a chance to escape the tedium of their lives with the fortuitous arrival of a Union corporal (played by Colin Farrell). The plot revolves around this wounded soldier during the bloody civil war, trapped inside a girls' boarding school in the secessionist state of Virginia. Sexual tensions and frustrations provoke vengeance and lust, exploring once again themes so dear to Sofia Coppola, the ennui of women and their oppression by those around them.

With The Beguiled, the American has been reunited with a favourite actress of hers, Kirsten Dunst, who previously starred in Virgin Suicides (1999), Marie Antoinette (2006) and The Bling Ring, along with the young actress Elle Fanning, seven years after Somewhere. Colin Farrell, full of anguish and the only male role, and Nicole Kidman, who plays the terrifying headmistress of this wicked establishment, have worked with Sofia Coppola for the first time.

In 2013, the teenage thieves of The Bling Ring opened Un Certain Regard and The Beguiled, Sofia Coppola's sixth feature film is her second film to be in the Official Selection after Marie Antoinette. It is however the first time the director has tried her hand at a remake, with Don Siegel's film being itself an adaptation of a novel by Thomas Cullinan written in 1969.