Title – The Beguiled (2017)
Director – Sofia Coppola (Lost in Translation)
Cast – Colin Farrell, Nicole Kidman, Kirsten Dunst, Elle Fanning, Oona Laurence, Angourie Rice
Plot – The quiet happenings of Miss Farnsworth’s (Kidman) Seminary for Young Ladies are turned upside down upon the arrival of wounded union corporal John McBurney (Farrell) to the grounds during the heat of the American Civil War battles.
“You’re our most unwelcome visitor, and we do not propose to entertain you”
Review by Eddie on 22/02/2018
One of the most unexpected reimagining’s to come along in some time, Sophia Coppola’s The Beguiled, a remake of the little known 1971 Clint Eastwood film of the same name, is a handsomely crafted and well-acted tale that sits somewhat in the middle range of Francis Ford Coppola’s daughter’s eclectic mix of feature films.
Set 3 years into the American Civil War of the 1800’s, Sofia Coppola’s film is drenched in southern gothic atmosphere and impending dread as Collin Farrell’s runaway and injured Union Corporal John McBurney is taken in by Nicole Kidman’s stoic seminary matriarch Martha Farnsworth, which as to be expected creates quite the stir in this now rundown and far from glorious young ladies seminary filled with child, teen and middle-aged woman.
The Beguiled makes no attempt to hide what it is intended to become, from the moment Oona Laurence’s Amy finds John wounded in the surrounding woods of the house you get a very clear sense of what lays ahead and while Coppola does a great job leading up to the inevitable mood change of the house, once the big moment comes, the film falters quite badly in its final hurrahs.
The tension and repressed feelings that lay in wait in Miss Farnsworth’s house during the films initial and middle stages gives way to a rather over the top and slightly unbelievable procession of events that Coppola’s immaculate production design, cinematography and cast can’t quite overcome.
A true ensemble piece, no one actor is the pure centrepiece of The Beguiled and all well-known leads handle themselves well. Farrell is as good as his been in some time as the not always likeable but somehow charming McBurney while Kidman and Kirsten Dunst are fine as the other older cast members. Younger cast members Elle Fanning (once more type cast as the brooding teen), Australian Angourie Rice and the aforementioned Lawrence are all also good, continuing on Coppola’s well-established reputation as a fine director of talented performers.
It is a shame then the well-paced and often believably palpable film falls of the rails in the later stage, as we’re left with a film that feels like it was close to becoming something special, rather than an impressively constructed but forgettable and cold gothic tale.
Final Say –
A step up from Coppola’s terrible The Bling Ring, this is a curious choice of film for Coppola to bring to life but one that suits her female oriented and dialogue driven repertoire and at the end of the day, The Beguiled is a pretty to look at distraction and a finely acted one but one that’s very far from Coppola’s most esteemed works.
3 plates of mushrooms out of 5