It’s the American Civil War, Union soldier John McBurney (Colin Farrell) is wounded. He stumbles into the grounds of a sedate girls’ school and is rescued by one of its young students. He’s taken up to the house, where headteacher Martha (a steely Nicole Kidman) rules that the Christian thing to do is to help him convalesce before turning him over to the Confederate troops.
Sofia Coppola’s is the second adaptation of Thomas P. Cullinan’s novel after Don Siegel’s 1971 film of the same name, but making it on its head.
While McBurney is recuperating he is unable to resist the temptation to take control of the ‘natural benefits’ of the situation. The women find themselves competing for McBurney’s favours as he sets about playing their vanities and insecurities. Uh oh…!
Director Sofia Coppola, whose previous work includes The Virgin Suicides, Marie Antoinette, and Lost in Translation is at the top of her game here, crafting a vibrant melodrama with her signature mix of intensity and detachment.
“A work of cool, exquisite artifice that evokes wildness on a small, controlled scale” (NY Times)
“You can’t shake it” (Rolling Stone) (research Emma Filippides) A fabulous cast playing it down. Come.