What We Can Expect from Sofia Coppola’s ‘The Little Mermaid’

Sofia CoppolaA24 via Everett Collection

You can officially count Sofia Coppola among the ranks of directors looking to revamp fairy tales. She’s attached to helm a live-action adaptation of The Little Mermaid. The film will be based on a script that was, at different points, worked on by both Shame‘s Abi Morgan and Fifty Shades of Grey‘s Kelly Marcel, which means that audiences can expect a more adult take on Hans Christian Anderson’s classic tale. Although Coppola isn’t doing final re-writes on the script — that task will fall to Caroline Thompson, who is best known for writing Edward Scissorhands — the project is practically tailor made for her. Seriously.

A story about a young woman who has everything she could possibly ask for but still isn’t happy with her life is exactly the kind of tale that Coppola has built her career on. Add in the fact that her pastel-filtered shooting style makes everything look ethereal and dreamy, and the only real surprise here is why it took Coppola so long to rework a fairy tale in the first place. In fact, we think Coppola is so perfect for this film, that we’ve compiled a list of her directorial trademarks, and how we’re expecting them to show up in The Little Mermaid

We open on a long, dialogue-free establishing sequence, where we meet our protagonist, the titular Little Mermaid… 

A Blonde… 
Coppola loves blondes. Seriously, almost all of the protagonists of her films are blonde, and three fifths of them are Kirsten Dunst. We’re going to assume that since this adaptation will be based on the original fairy tale, Coppola will decide to break away from the Disney mold and make her heroine a blonde; since Dunst has stopped playing teenagers, we have a feeling the director will tap her Somewhere star Elle Fanning for the role. She already looks like a fairy tale princess, and Dunst can make another cameo appearance as one of Fanning’s older sisters. 

Who Is Overcome with Ennui…
The only thing that Coppola loves more than a rich blonde is a rich blonde who is overwhelmed by feelings of unhappiness and is unsatisfied by her life. She will spend much of her time staring longingly out of windows — either the windows in her underwater mansion or the portholes of the abandoned ships she hangs out in at night — and waits for something to help her figure out what’s missing from her life. Both the characters onscreen and audience watching the film will be unable to understand why she’s so unhappy. After all, she’s got everything she could possibly want! 

Even Though She Is Rich. 
Like all of the poor little rich girls who came before her, the Little Mermaid will attempt to fill the void in her life with material goods. Her home is filled with gadgets and gizmos a plenty, whosists and whatsists galore, and at least 20 thingamabobs, but whether she bought those objects with her father’s credit cards or she stole them from somebody else, she’ll still want more. Because it’s not truly a Sofia Coppola movie without a message about the emptiness of materialism. 

She Spends Her Time Staring at Sun-Dappled Trees…
All of Coppola’s films feature a transition or establishing shot that highlights the way that sunlight looks when it shines through the leaves of the trees. This time around, we’re predicting that shot will come as a way to establish the Little Mermaid’s longing for life on land. She and her awkward, dorky guy friend and her ditzy, party animal best friend will sneak out to the surface of the ocean, where they’ll look up at the way the sun shines through the leaves and pine for a life on the surface. Alternatively, Coppola could decide to shoot the way sunlight looks shining through the rippling waves, but water just doesn’t have that same dreamy-but-lonely effect as trees do. 

And People Dancing.
Whether you loved or hated the homemade “music video” in the middle of The Bling Ring, it jus wouldn’t make sense for one of Coppola’s films not to have a scene where people twirl dreamily (or twerk into a webcam). For The Little Mermaid, we’re thinking the director should use two separate, shorter ones: one at the beginning, to establish the pretty, pastel-colored world the mermaids inhabit, and one of the mermaid watching people cavort on the legs she so desperately wishes she had. Set them both to mid-tempo, semi-obscure indie rock song and you’ve got yourself instant exposition. 

Somewhere, There’s a Veiled Dig at Spike Jonze 
Okay, so this one only shows up in Lost in Translation, but since Jonze just took home an Oscar for Best Screenplay, we think now is the best time for Coppola to get all of her aggression out onscreen. Maybe the protagonist has an underwater boyfriend who is too focused on his career, and she feels trapped in that relationship. Or maybe the handsome human prince has just won a prestigious award. Maybe he skateboards and hangs around with other humans who perform dangerous stunts and film them for people’s entertainment. All we’re saying is keep your eyes peeled for any Jonze-ian references buried underneath the surface. 

We’re going to be the first people in line when this film hits theaters.