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The Beguiled

June 2, 2018

The Beguiled (2017)
Director: Sofia Coppola
Actors: Colin Farrell, Nicole Kidman, Elle Fanning

Image result for the beguiled film

Synopsis: Injured Yankee soldier, John McBurney (Colin Farrell), is taken into convalescence in an isolated Virginia girls’ school run by Miss Farnsworth (Nicole Kidman) and her few remaining students and one teacher. Over a series of weeks, as McBurney recovers, the women respectively develop various bonds with their ‘captive’ male resident…

Review: Yet another variant on Sofia Coppola’s now highly specified signature of airless chamber pieces depicting cocooned malcontents, The Beguiled is unimpeachably attractive and conjures an almost wispy, dreamlike ambience that’s impossible not to sink into.

On the level the narrative operates at, it’s kind of perfect, though it’s also beautifully empty much like, for example, Tim Burton’s Sleepy Hollow which was a delectably designed gothic spooker with nothing really at stake beyond its basic remit to please on a narrative and visual level. And maybe that’s right for The Beguiled too. Although it’s ultimately a light fairytale and Mills and Boon-style battle of the sexes, Coppola is wise not to pin a proto-feminist or political slant to it.

If there’s any import beyond what we see, it’s perhaps the subtext that this languorously isolated little outpost is a cocoon of softness and sensitivity amid a world of grime, brutality and the quagmire of war that is kept mostly out of shot. That reading honours the transcendence of the visual tapestry of the film – a work that could be tagged as an 1864 version of The Virgin Suicides, except this time it is the man under threat – and there’s even a hint of Dickens’ ‘Great Expectations’ in the gorgeous opening where one of the younger girls, Amy, comes across the Magwitch-style Yankee deserter, John McBurney. It’s the suitable opening informant to what is a casually beautiful film, and another notch in Sofia Coppola’s instantly recognisable and singular body of work. (June 2018)

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