Beautifully haunting period-drama has stunning cinematography, but Nicole Kidman’s faltering accent can draw you out of the moment.
At a girls' school in Virginia during the Civil War, where the young women have been sheltered from the outside world, a wounded Union soldier is taken in. Soon, the house is taken over with sexual tension, rivalries, and an unexpected turn of events.
Southern accents are difficult to maintain convincingly, yet miraculously the younger cast all do it with ease. Australian’s own Nicole Kidman struggles at times, with certain words sounding Australian - however, the remainder of her performance is outstanding. Kirsten Dunst is excellent in her role, smaller roles seem to be where she really shines. Elle Fanning is phenomenal, for the third time in 6 months she manages to be a scene-stealer alongside some A-list talent. Fanning’s diversity in character is impressive for someone her age. Angourie Rice, Addison Riecke, Oona Laurence and Emma Howard are all also impressive as the remainder of the girls at the school. Colin Farrell is impressively kind, yet menacing in his role. Overall, it’s a very strong cast.
Sophia Coppola wrote and directed the film, winning numerous awards on the festival circuit this year. Her direction is stunning. There’s a stillness and quietness to the film, which is rare in modern cinema. There’s no fear of silence and that makes for remarkable cinema. The steadiness of the camera is also striking - the way it moves is hypnotising.
Overall a near perfect film. One to see.
Review by Benjamin Maio Mackay
Screening courtesy of Universal Pictures