The Beguiled

"Excellent"

The Beguiled Review


In her inimitable loose style, Sofia Coppola remakes the 1971 Clint Eastwood movie from a distinctly feminine perspective. Like her other films, this feels loose and sometimes aimless, demanding that the audience find their own way through the story. It's also a remarkably effective gothic thriller, darkly playing on the vulnerability and innate power of women.

It's set in 1864 Virginia, where the residents of an isolated girls school can hear the Civil War raging in the distance. Teachers Martha and Edwina (Nicole Kidman and Kirsten Dunst) and students Alicia, Jane, Amy, Marie and Emily (Elle Fanning, Angourie Rice, Oona Laurence, Addison Riecke and Emma Howard) have just been getting on with their education in their cocoon-like plantation. Then Amy discovers wounded Union soldier John (Colin Farrell) in the woods. With their own male relatives dead or missing in the war, all of these women are fascinated by this man, an enemy who needs their help. So each begins flirting with him in her own way. But as John considers staying on as a handyman, he's unaware of the jealousies he is igniting around him.

The actors give provocative, layered performances, subtly revealing their internal desires as they interact in unexpected ways. Kidman is the focal point as the stern Martha, trying to remain stoic and in control even as she feels lust for this interloper. Dunst's Edwina is more openly romantic in her approach, while Fanning's Alicia is old enough to desire him in unfamiliar ways. The younger four girls stay mainly on the sideline, even as they add their own layers of intrigue. And Farrell is terrific as the brooding, swarthy man who's unaware of the passions he's stirring up. Where this goes is creepy and intense, as John seems to think that he can pick whichever woman he likes. But he's badly underestimating them.

Coppola films all of this like a dream, with arching trees obscuring the sky overhead, which makes it feel like this school exists almost in a rift in time and space. There's the odd soldier passing by the gate, but mainly these women have just been getting on with their lives without the need for men. So having one around understandably unsettles them. Coppola's understated filmmaking lets her play with issues of gender and religion in remarkably challenging ways. In a society that has been devastated by war, perhaps the old restrictions don't apply anymore. The filmmaking is so insinuating that it can't help but linger in our thoughts.

Watch the trailer for The Beguiled:



Facts and Figures

Genre: Dramas

Box Office Worldwide: $5.5M

Budget: $10.5M

Production compaines: American Zoetrope, Focus Features

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 4 / 5

Cast & Crew

Director:

Producer: , Youree Henley

Starring: as John McBurney, as Martha Farnsworth, as Edwina Dabney, as Alicia, as Jane, Oona Laurence as Amy, Addison Riecke as Marie, Emma Howard as Emily, Wayne Pére as Captain, Eric Ian as Confederate Soldier, Matt Story as Confederate Soldier, Rod J. Pierce as Confederate Soldier

Also starring:

Contactmusic


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