The Beguiled is the newest film from director Sophia Coppola, best known for her films Lost in Translation and Marie Antoinette. If you think the title sounds familiar, according to the director herself, it is not a remake of the 1971 Clint Eastwood starring film, but instead her own interpretation of the novel of the same name by author Thomas P. Cullinan.
The film was quite the favourite at this year’s Cannes Film Festival. The film helped Coppola become the second woman in history to the win the best director prize at the festival.
The film takes place in rural Virginia, in the midst of the Civil War. When Corporal John McBurney played by Colin Farrell, is rescued by one of the students from a near by all girls boarding school. For the first time in a long time, the woman of the school are exposed to male interaction. But is Corporal McBurney a friend or foe?
At first the women fear his presence as he fights for the Union, but soon they begin to compete for his attention and his affection. Leading the females is Miss Martha, played by Nicole Kidman, delivering a fantastic performance as the schools headmistress. Kidman’s character frequently finds herself both intrigued and suspicious of the new houseguest.
Filling out the cast is Coppola favourite Kirsten Dunst as school teacher Edwina, who see’s Corporal McBurney as a way out of her boring life, and Elle Fanning as the flirtatious and devious Alicia, who sees the soldier as a way to explore her sexual desires.
My favorite aspect of the movie was definitely the cinematography, as each scene was filmed so beautifully and with great natural lighting. I definitely feel with most of Coppola’s films, they favour style over substance. While I did enjoy the storyline and performances of The Beguiled, I felt the aesthetics of the film were what I enjoyed most and see those aspects having a shot at some Oscar attention next year.
I do need to give some love though to Colin Farrell for his performance and say that he proved me wrong. Going into this, I was not expecting to enjoy his performance as I’ve never been a huge fan of his acting, but I was pleasantly surprised by his performance. I liked the fact that Coppola let him keep his Irish accent for the role as it made him ever so charming.
This film is definitely a must see for this summer as it perfectly shows that while women might compete against one another for a man’s attention, they can easily band together to take him down. The final look the women give to McBurney at the end of the film sent chills down my spine and I’m sure you’ll get the same feeling too.
Universal Pictures releases The Beguiled on Friday, June 30, 2017
[Review by Jennifer King]