Sunday, July 2, 2017

The Beguiled

Movie Name: The Beguiled
Year of Release: 2017
Director: Sofia Coppola
Stars: Colin Farrell, Nicole Kidman, Kirsten Dunst, Elle Fanning, Oona Laurence, Angourie Rice, Addison Riecke, Emma Howard
Genre: Action, Crime
Score out of ten (whole numbers only): 7
View Trailer

After her "Little Mermaid" project for Disney fell through, director Sofia Coppola put together an adaptation of "The Beguiled", based on the novel by Thomas Culinan and the screenplay written in the 70s by Albert Maltz and Irene Kamp (which was directed by Don Siegel and featured Clint Eastwood and Geraldine Page). The film focuses on a group of women under a same roof, specifically a school for young women in the South, during the American Civil War. One of the young students while picking mushrooms in the woods comes across a yankee wounded soldier. Initially surprised and torn between what to do with the soldier, the director and main teacher, agree to let the charming soldier stay, while they tend to his wounds. The soldier slowly ingratiates himself into the lives of the women, until one evening things come to a dramatic halt when he's discovered with one of the young students.
"The Beguiled" scored Sofia Coppola a best director award at this year's Cannes Film Festival. The writer/director has slowly built a career for herself, always with a distinct point of view, very much focused on women centric narratives ("The Virgin Suicides", "Lost in Translation" and "Marie Antoinette" for example). "The Beguiled" is another example of her point of view: what was in the original screenplay a story very much focused on the wounded soldier, becomes in this version, a story about the different women who occupy the house, their longings, and their fears. The film is beautifully built, slowly showcasing how the older women respond to the presence of a male figure in the house. That is particularly more evident with the character played by Kirsten Dunst, who becomes particularly enticed by the soldier. He romances her with hopes of leveraging her loneliness as a way to escape (war and a life of work). The film has a dark and gothic tone to it, but it's very much driven by Coppola's aesthetic and trademark character building, which allows for Kirsten Dunst in particular to create a character who looks tired, hopeless, and who suddenly reawakens when this persona comes into the house. Sadly her character is the more realized one, but it's still an impressive group and dynamic that is showcased in the feature. It's a beautifully constructed and acted film (Colin Farrell and Nicole Kidman are equally great), from another unique voice in cinema. Worth watching.