Sofia Coppola’s next movie will be a remake of the 1971 Don Siegel film The Beguiled, the Tracking Board reported on Tuesday. She’ll write, direct, and produce, and has already cast Nicole Kidman, Kirsten Dunst, and Elle Fanning. The male lead, played by Clint Eastwood in the original film, hasn’t yet been cast.
It will be interesting to see how Coppola approaches the material, an adaptation of Thomas P. Cullinan’s 1966 novel, because in its initial release neither the studio nor Eastwood seemed to quite know what to say about it. Faced with the prospect of selling a Southern Gothic melodrama about a wounded Union soldier who is eventually—spoiler alert—maimed and murdered, Misery-style, by the residents of an all-girls school in Louisiana, the marketing department decided their best bet was to treat it like the nymphomaniac scene in Shock Corridor:
Clint Eastwood, wounded Yankee, is brought to an all-girls school to become the prisoner of these man-deprived women, these man-eager girls! Consider the possibilities: Is he a helpless victim to be threatened, teased, enticed, loved at their will and pleasure? Or is he a man, aggressive, wooing, demanding, who must love to stay alive? Clint Eastwood! Man! The symbol! The sexual enemy!
That doesn’t sound like Sofia Coppola territory, exactly, and neither does Don Siegel’s statement that one of the film’s themes was “the basic desire of women to castrate men.” Eastwood’s take on his character’s motivations also could stand a rethink:
What guy wouldn’t try to save his life in a situation like that? With seven girls hauling you around on a stretcher say, “Hey well, I’ll grab a little nookie while I’m here and who cares.”
It seems like a challenging adaptation, but if all goes well, Coppola’s version could be the best feminist reimagining of an earlier work since Mary Harron’s American Psycho.