Focus Features – limited 6/23, wider 6/30
Dir: Sofia Coppola
Cast: Kirsten Dunst, Nicole Kidman, Elle Fanning, Colin Farrell
What It’s About: Based on the novel by Thomas Cullinan and previously made into a film by Clint Eastwood, Oscar-winner Sofia Coppola adapts this post-Civil War western/thriller about a house of sheltered women (led by Oscar winner Nicole Kidman) who take in a wounded Union soldier (played by Colin Farrell). While the original film had a deeper Western vibe, Coppola’s version feels like a southern gothic version of Picnic at Hanging Rock and definitely remains firmly in her aesthetic.
Pros: The film just landed a spot at this year’s Cannes Film Festival as an In Competition film and comes from a previous Oscar winner (Coppola). A win here would definitely boost the film’s awards profile through the summer. 2013 Cannes jury member Nicole Kidman has another film In Competition at Cannes (The Killing of a Sacred Deer) and her performance in HBO’s Big Little Lies has garnered some of the best reviews of her career. The female-driven angle could be the right counter-programming in the usual male-dominated summer.
Cons: Landing on June 23rd in limited release (and going wider a week later), this summer effort might get lost in the shuffle of superheroes (Wonder Woman), movie monsters (The Mummy) and Transformers. It will need major reviews to keep it a player throughout the second half of the year. Focus Features already has a handful of fall and winter awards films (Darkest Hour, Victoria and Abdul, Paul Thomas Anderson’s fashion drama) and could just, well, focus on those.
Bottom Line: I feel like this early summer release will ultimately not end up a player. Cannes will be its only festival, box office is unlikely to light a fire and bigger, more awards-friendly dated films lie ahead.
Here is the new trailer but beware, if you aren’t familiar with the source material or previous film, this gives away quite a bit of the story.