Friday, June 30, 2017

The Beguiled

The Beguiled is a remake of 1971 film starring Clint Eastwood as a wounded soldier brought into and tended by the residents of a Southern all-girls boarding school. Choosing to remake the film more from the perspective of the women rather than the male intruder in their lives, Sofia Coppola's version of The Beguiled is highlighted by strong performances all around but it's sadly also the least-interesting movie of the talented director's career.

The remake casts Colin Farrell as Union Corporal McBurney who is found by one of school's tweens (Oona Laurence). With the bleeding soldier loosing consciousness on arrival, the headmistress Miss Martha (Nicole Kidman) chooses to tend to the soldier's wounds. As he heals the charming man makes effort to separately woo the various women of the house (whose number also include Kirsten Dunst, Elle Fanning, Angourie Rice, Addison Riecke, and Emma Howard) winning them all over to his side. However, the soldier certainly can't keep his empty promises to all the girls which leads to a dark turn and lots of conflict in the film's final act as the women discover the fox they've let into their hen house.

When I say The Beguiled is the least of Coppola's films that is not a sleight. I love the woman's filmography which has placed multiple movies on my best of the year lists over the years. The fact that The Beguiled is less memorable or moving compared to The Virgin Suicides, Marie Antoinette, Somewhere, Lost in Translation, or The Bling Ring, has more to say about the source material than any lack of vision from its director. Even with the limitations of the script, Coppola gets the most out of her stars, and the casting of Farrell as the wolf in sheep's clothing works perfectly. That said, the movie runs out of steam prior to the closing credits ending on an underwhelming note after a long build-up. While certainly not a missed opportunity, I think cast and crew get the most out of the source material, in the end the high bar the director has set makes even an average entry like this one feel like something of a disappointment.

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