According to director Sofia Coppola, this is not a remake of the 1971 film of the same name starring Clint Eastwood; it’s a new adaptation of the novel both films are based on.
Nicole Kidman stars as the leader of a southern school for girls, shut off from the rest of the world during the Civil War. While out searching for mushrooms, young Amy (Oona Laurence) finds a wounded Union soldier (Colin Farrell) and leads him back to the school. As the man heals, the young students and teachers each have interactions with the soldier and things eventually get, well, complicated.
Everybody in the movie delivers good work, especially Kidman as Miss Martha, a strict leader with risky compassion for the enemy soldier. Longtime Coppola collaborator Kirsten Dunst is on hand as a teacher who gets some extra attention from the stranger, and she’s strong in her role, as usual. Other cast members include Elle Fanning, Angourie Rice and Addison Riecke.
The film eschews the usual Coppola soundtrack exuberance for something very quiet and slowly paced. As the film works up to a boil, leading to a shocking climax, Coppola creates a true sense of claustrophobia and high tension.
This isn’t her best work, but it is good work, with excellent cinematography and art direction.