Set during the US Civil War, John McBurney (Colin Farrell) is the mortally wounded deserter who is taken in by the inhabitants of a decorous girls' school. From the Head of the school (Nicole Kidman) down through the teachers (Kirstin Dunst) and the hormone-rampant young ladies (Elle Fanning), each of the females comes up with a rationalisation for harbouring this serpent in their midst. McBurney, for his part, is happy to play to each of the women's fantasies about him - tempter and tempted, father and mother - until his duplicities come to light and he is due a reckoning.
This isadapted from the 1966 Thomas P Cullinan novel, already filmed by Don Siegel in 1971 with Clint Eastwood as McBurney. In Coppola's hands - and with this sublime cast - the story becomes something very different again. Says the Telegraph: "Coppola and her cast express the softly shifting chemistry within the school building with consummate control and wit and scenes are spritzed with minuscule double entendres, telling micro-glances and sly social manoeuvring." We can't wait!