Kidman, Farrell call for more films made by women

Sofia Coppola (in black), director of The Beguiled, with cast members (from far left) Nicole Kidman, Kirsten Dunst, Elle Fanning and Addison Riecke at the screening of the movie at the Cannes Film Festival on Wednesday.
Sofia Coppola (in black), director of The Beguiled, with cast members (from far left) Nicole Kidman, Kirsten Dunst, Elle Fanning and Addison Riecke at the screening of the movie at the Cannes Film Festival on Wednesday.PHOTOS: REUTERS
Chinese actress and Cannes jury member Fan Bingbing with French actor Melvil Poupaud, who stars with her in the historical film The Lady In The Portrait.
Chinese actress and Cannes jury member Fan Bingbing with French actor Melvil Poupaud, who stars with her in the historical film The Lady In The Portrait. PHOTOS: REUTERS

CANNES •Hollywood A-listers Nicole Kidman and Colin Farrell said on Wednesday they wanted to throw their star power behind more movies made by women, after the Cannes premiere of their battle-of-the-sexes thriller The Beguiled.

The film, which closed to rapturous applause and got positive early reviews, is the third outing to the world's biggest film festival by Oscar winner Sofia Coppola, one of three female directors vying for the Palme d'Or this year.

"We as women have to support female directors, that's just a given now," Kidman said, noting that just over 4 per cent of major American movies last year were made by women.

"Hopefully that will change over time, but everyone says, 'Oh, it's so different now.' It isn't."

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In Coppola's remake of Clint Eastwood's 1971 melodrama, Kidman plays the headmistress of a school for gentile young women trapped behind the gates of a country mansion as the American Civil War rages around them. The arrival of an injured Yankee soldier, played by Farrell, awakens repressed desires.

"At the core of it is the power struggles between the male and female... hopefully in an entertaining and juicy story," Coppola told a news conference after the screening.

Farrell, who also stars with Kidman in the Cannes contender The Killing Of A Sacred Deer, joked that he was the "token male" on the set of The Beguiled.

"I have a penis. Treachery and hilarity ensues," he quipped.

He admitted it was only his second time working with a woman director, but said he aimed to pursue more female-led projects. "I've been doing this 20 years and I think this was my favourite experience, my favourite shoot."

Years after seeing the Eastwood movie, by Dirty Harry director Don Siegel, Coppola said she decided to drop her resistance to remakes.

"It really stayed in my mind. The premise was something I had never seen. The original movie is from the male point of view, the soldier's point of view, of this women's world and I thought it would be interesting to go back and find the book and tell the same premise from the women characters' point of view."

The strong female cast includes Elle Fanning and Kirsten Dunst, who is in her third Coppola film.

"I would do anything with Sofia," Dunst said. "If she gave me the phone book, I would do it."

Coppola first came to Cannes as a child with her father, two-time Palme d'Or winner Francis Ford Coppola.

Her last entry in the main competition, Marie Antoinette (2006), was loudly booed and drew mixed reviews. This time, critics called The Beguiled the most likely commercial hit out of the 19 movies in the running for the Palme d'Or.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 26, 2017, with the headline 'Kidman, Farrell call for more films made by women'. Print Edition | Subscribe