Nicole Kidman delivers a fierce performance as Miss Martha, the headmistress of an all-girls boarding school, in Sofia Coppola’s thriller The Beguiled (now showing exclusively at Ayala Malls Cinemas’ Greenbelt 1 & Trinoma).
Adapted from the novel by Thomas Cullinan, The Beguiled is a sexually charged tale that unfolds during the Civil War, at a Southern girls’ boarding school. Its sheltered young women take in an injured enemy soldier (Farrell). As they provide refuge and tend to his wounds, the house is taken over with sexual tension and dangerous rivalries, and taboos are broken in an unexpected turn of events.
Kidman comments, “I thought it was exciting to work with a group of women and then put Colin in the equation. I was so happy to support Sofia as a female director, and I always thought that she made such atmospheric movies in such a signature style. That was the main thing which drew me to working with her.”
As it happens, when director Sofia Coppola approached Colin Farrell with The Beguiled, he had only just completed production on another movie with Kidman. He quips, “Nicole and I are now each 50 percent of a small film repertory company. Nicole is a joy to work with. When she comes on the set, everyone gets a little bit better, from the actors to the electricians!”
“Everyone stands up straighter,” adds co-star Elle Fanning. “Especially when Nicole was being Miss Martha.”
For Coppola, Kidman is uniquely qualified to play Miss Martha as the former had reconceived the character. “I’ve loved Nicole’s performances – especially when she plays a little bit twisted, like in To Die For. I’ve always wanted to work with her, and when I was writing the screenplay I pictured her and that helped me. I knew she would bring a lot to Miss Martha, including humor and emotion. Nicole can play it so commanding that you know she’s in charge of the whole group.
“But I didn’t want the cliché of the scary headmistress,” adds Coppola. “At all ages in this movie, the women are Southern beauties – although Miss Martha’s moment as a Southern belle has passed, and the parties are over. What’s become real for her is protecting these girls; she’s had to be strong in difficult times.”
Kidman returns the compliment, “Sofia is so softly spoken and sweet and lovely to be around. Everyone has such respect for her. I was also fascinated by how Sofia put together the look of The Beguiled; she had such strong ideas for how it should look, including the costumes and sets – and she had to work within the parameters of the low budget.”
The Beguiled is distributed in the Philippines by United International Pictures through Columbia Pictures.