I think it's safe to say that 2017 has given the world a new appreciation of just how talented Nicole Kidman is. After an emotional turn as a victim of domestic abuse on HBO's Big Little Lies, no one could stop praising Kidman's nuanced performance. This summer, Sofia Coppola's The Beguiled will reveal another side to Kidman — one that is sure to blow Big Little Lies fans away.
The trailer for the film is an exercise in escalating tension. What starts as a simple period piece about a Civil War era all-girls boarding school slowly turns into a horror film about a Union soldier, played by Colin Farrell, who stumbles upon the school and soon finds out leaving won't be so easy. Kidman stars as Martha, the head of the school who sees Farrell as a source of temptation and corruption for her girls. And it quickly becomes clear Martha will not abide a man leading her girls astray.
Throughout Big Little Lies, Kidman tapped into her vulnerability and enigmatic nature to portray a woman who crafted a careful narrative of her life to present to the world, when the truth was much darker. Her performance has been praised as one of the most honest depictions of domestic abuse ever committed to the screen, and the actor is generating serious Emmy buzz as a result. However, Kidman has a gift for moving between roles like a chameleon, and she is very much the predator in The Beguiled — even if Farrell's character sees her and her pupils as the prey.
"You are a most unwelcome visitor, and we do not propose to entertain you," Martha tells the soldier in a firm, but gentle voice at the start of the trailer. That's the last time she sounds gentle.
The film appears to be playing with the outdated notion that women are weak or can easily be turned against each other when a man enters their midst. These tropes are often found in traditional period pieces, but the trailer proves The Beguiled is not a traditional period piece.
Once Farrell's soldier begins to play the women in the house, they seem to turn on him together, and the results may wander into Misery territory. While the cast is stocked with terrific actors like Kirsten Dunst and Elle Fanning, Kidman is the undisputed lead. Martha is every bit as guarded as Big Little Lies' Celeste, but she is far more dangerous, proving once again that Kidman's range and depth as an actor should never be underestimated.