Sofia Coppola’s southern gothic tale of lust and jealously The Beguiled is no stranger to the big screen. Based on the 1966 novel by Thomas Cullinan, the story of a Girl’s Boarding school in the south who takes in a wounded Union soldier during the Civil War had a prior big screen version in 1971 starring Clint Eastwood and Geraldine Page. This new take shares many similarities from the previous film, but brings it together in a shiny new package for today’s audience.
Nicole Kidman stars as Martha, the by the books Headmaster of what’s left of the student body and staff at the Boarding school where the war comes hobbling into their backyards in the form of injured Yankee John McBurney played brilliantly by Colin Farrell. Coppola creates an eery atmosphere with a place full of beauty surrounded by death. You never see any of the bloody battles in The Beguiled, but the sound of cannon fire is always present in this little piece of society trying to hold onto some sense of normalcy. The women left including lonely school teacher Edwina( Kirsten Dunst) and hormonal teen Alicia (Elle Fanning) oppose the idea of turning John over to Southern troops which result in certain death. The ladies looking for any sort of human contact other than soldiers looking for food and water decide to keep John leading to love, lust and betrayal.
Director Sophia Coppola does an excellent job of shifting your emotions concerning these unlikely housemates in The Beguiled. Our players true colors are not always clear leading you to love one character one second, then loathe their slimy actions the next. Colin Farrell especially shines showing off many sides to his personality as John. He’s a character that always keeps you guessing as to where his mind is while charming all the ladies of the house. Kidman is kind, yet cold as Martha whose hard shell exterior begins to crack thanks to their house guest and her longing for companionship. The Beguiled does an excellent job capturing the actions people will take when they have a case chronic of loneliness in a world full of bloodshed and death.
The Beguiled is a worthy remake of the original film and your preference may come down to whether you are old school or new school in terms of film taste. Seeing the web of desire and lies create an intense watch set against the gorgeous southern landscape is something to be appreciated. The cast does great work morphing their characters over the film with some coming full circle back to our first impressions of these people we met in the beginning of the film. One thing is certain for certain in The Beguiled and that is love will make you blind and do crazy things if you’ve been alone long enough.
Overall, I give The Beguiled 3 out of 4 stars.
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