Elle and Dakota Fanning smile posing together on a red carpet.
(Bruce Glikas/WireImage)

It’s Been Almost a Decade Since They Promised Us ‘The Nightingale’ Starring Elle and Dakota Fanning

Kristin Hannah’s 2015 bestseller The Nightingale is a gripping novel about courage, determination, and loss. A cinematic adaptation has been in the works for years and years, and fans are starting to lose hope of ever seeing this compelling story play out on screen.

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The plot follows two sisters in Nazi-occupied France in 1939 during World War II. Vianne Mauriac is a wife and mother who finds a way to hide local Jewish children even while a German army captain has taken up residence inside her home. Her younger sister, Isabelle Rossignol, joins the French Resistance and helps Allied airmen escape the Germans by guiding them across the Pyrenees mountains to safety. The two sisters often butt heads, but they each find their own ways to rebel against their oppressors and to help others.

The film adaptation

Sony Pictures purchased the rights to a film adaptation of The Nightingale way back in 2015. The film would be produced by TriStar Pictures and Cantillon Company and directed by Mélanie Laurent (Galveston). Real-life sisters Elle and Dakota Fanning were tapped to play Isabelle and Vianne, respectively. This would have been the first time the sisters have appeared together in a film since 2001, when Elle played a younger version of Dakota’s character in I Am Sam.

Originally, Sony announced a release date of December 25, 2020, but in March 2020 production shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The release date was then pushed back one year, then two … but it’s been radio silence ever since the last announcement of December 23, 2022. The studio has kept mum about a new production schedule, not a single scene has been shot, and no further casting information has been released. It’s not looking great, people.

Age is another consideration for the current production plan. In the book, Isabelle is 18 and Vianne is 28 years old. The Fanning sisters are currently 26 and 30, so it’s still very possible for them to step into those roles … for now. However, if Sony delays this production for a few more years, they might have to recast. Both actresses are also extremely busy with other projects, so we’ll have to wait and see if The Nightingale fits into their future work schedules.

Other Kristin Hannah adaptations are moving forward

Deadline reports that Warner Bros. has purchased the rights to another one of Hannah’s bestselling novels. The Women, a 2024 book about the female nurses who were the unsung heroes of the Vietnam War. There’s still no production schedule for this work, but at the rate we’re going, we expect to see The Women long before we see The Nightingale on the big screen!

Again, there’s no release date for The Nightingale at this time, but we’ll keep you posted when we learn more!


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Beverly Jenkins
Beverly Jenkins (she/her) is a contributing writer for The Mary Sue. She writes about pop culture, entertainment, and web memes, and has published a book or a funny day-to-day desk calendar about web humor every year for a decade. When not writing, she's listening to audiobooks or watching streaming movies under a pile of her very loved (spoiled) pets.