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The Nightingale - What We Know So Far

For the first time in their careers, celeb sisters Dakota and Elle Fanning will be co-stars in a movie. That movie is TriStar Pictures' upcoming feature "The Nightingale," a World War II-set drama directed by Mélanie Laurent ("Inglourious Basterds"). "The Nightingale" has been adapted by screenwriter Dana Stevens ("Safe Haven," "City of Angels") and is based on Kristin Hannah's 2015 novel of the same name. "The Nightingale" is not only a notable project because of the Fanning sisters' involvement, but also because it marks a reunion between Laurent and Elle Fanning following their collaboration on the 2018 drama "Galveston," which starred Fanning and was directed by Laurent. "The Nightingale" will also serve as the second English-language feature Laurent has directed as well as the seventh feature film she has helmed.

"The Nightingale"s journey to the big screen is a lengthy one. Sony TriStar Pictures acquired the rights to Hannah's acclaimed World War II novel in March 2015 (via The Hollywood Reporter). From there, TriStar brought in screenwriter Ann Peacock ("The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe") to adapt Hannah's story for the big screen. By August 2016, Peacock had been shuffled off the project, with John Sayles ("The Spiderwick Chronicles") brought in to clean up a draft of the script and Michelle MacLaren ("Game of Thrones") set to direct. These two positions were vacated sometime before Laurent and Stevens were hired by TriStar in December 2019 and the Fannings were announced to co-star (via The Hollywood Reporter).

Keep reading to learn more about the release date, cast, and plot of "The Nightingale."

When will The Nightingale be released?

"The Nightingale" has faced some notable release date setbacks over the past two years. In March 2017 — two years after TriStar Pictures had acquired the rights to Hannah's book and before the film had gone into production — "The Nightingale" feature adaptation was given an August 10, 2018, release date (via Deadline). At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020, TriStar pushed "The Nightingale"s release date back to December 25, 2020, before removing it from the schedule on April 24 only to put it back on the calendar less than a week later with a December 22, 2021 release date. Finally, as reported once again by Deadline in February 2021, TriStar Pictures set "The Nightingale" for release on December 23, 2022. 

Although the release date has undergone a fair bit of shuffling since TriStar acquired rights to the book, one thing has remained constant: the studio's insistence on locking in a December release date. This release date hints at TriStar's hopes for the project's success upon release. Not only is a late December release date a prime spot for holiday moviegoers (which could mean sizable box office receipts), but this window is also favorable for studios who think they have a hot awards season contender on their hands. With this in mind, it's possible "The Nightingale" could be positioned in its marketing as an unmissable prestige drama.

Who is in the cast of The Nightingale?

Despite the fact that "The Nightingale" is quite far along in the production process, little is known about the cast for the movie outside of its two lead actors. As previously mentioned, those actors are Dakota and Elle Fanning, real-life sisters who will play sisters onscreen for the first time in their respectively lengthy careers. In "The Nightingale," Dakota will play Vianne Mauriac, the older sister of Elle's Isabelle Rossignol. Given that "The Nightingale" is an adaptation of a novel, we already know fair amount about each of these characters, too. In the book, Vianne is a schoolteacher and mother living in rural France at the onset of World War II. As for Isabelle, she transforms from rebellious girl to a young woman working as part of the French Resistance during the war over the course of "The Nightingale"s sweeping story.

Outside of this casting, it's unclear who will be joining Dakota and Elle Fanning in "The Nightingale." Given that no news has emerged yet, prospective viewers will find out more about the rest of the cast closer to when the first poster, images, or trailer are released. Typically, those elements for a movie of "The Nightingale"'s ilk — specifically, a period drama from a major studio — are released somewhere within six months of the movie's release date. As such, we should get a closer look at the cast around mid-2022, at the earliest.

What is the plot of The Nightingale?

Per Goodreads' assessment of Hannah's novel, "The Nightingale" is "a heartbreakingly beautiful novel that celebrates the resilience of the human spirit and the durability of women." On that note, "The Nightingale"'s story centers on two sisters, Vianne and Isabelle, living in France in the early days of World War II. Vianne, the eldest sister, is a married mother who works as a school teacher in Carriveau, the small town where she grew up. When her husband is drafted to the frontlines, Vianne and her daughter experience first-hand the German occupation of France as Europe plunges into war. This includes surviving food rationing, bombings, and German soldiers taking residence in Vianne's home. 

Elsewhere, Isabelle gets caught up in the French Resistance after meeting a young man who says there could be a way to fight the Nazis within France's borders. As the war goes on, Isabelle becomes an important figure in the Resistance and a serious threat to the Nazis. Both sisters endure unimaginable hardships over the ensuing years as they are tested by the war and forced to make numerous difficult decisions.

With the Fannings coming together onscreen for the first time in their careers to tell this sweeping, dramatic story, "The Nightingale" will no doubt be a must-see when it arrives in December 2022.