It would be easy to view this film as all about gender. Is it feminist? Is it anti-feminist? Or even to focus on race issues. Did Coppola whitewash the story? But that misses the point of this sumptuous, visceral, superlative movie. Coppola made a film about what humans do under extreme conditions that is refreshingly devoid of the gender tropes Hollywood loves to spew such as "lusting male manipulator" and "frigid female spinster." In this film, every character is first and foremost human--complex, nuanced and struggling with their conflict between survival, desire <more>
and morality. Coppola's film shows that humans male and female struggle with the same conflicts. Yes, women lust. And, yes, men have moral struggles. Because both women and men lust and have moral struggles. And both have the instinct to survive. The experience of the film was a unique blend of powerful sensuality--the intimate sharing of music, food, and prayer, acts of care and service like bathing, bandaging and even gardening, exotic rich nature scenes, the distant sounds of war and the sparse but compelling soundtrack make this a film you want to crawl into and touch, taste, and smell as well as see and hear. The exquisite costuming creates mesmerizing tableaux as well as expresses both what's common and unique to each of the female characters--not an easy feat to accomplish. The leading stars shine brilliantly, but we also see a depth and profundity of character and acting among the 4 young girls in the film. A truly ensemble drama, not usually seen among a cast of such varied ages.The emotional ride is also a powerful experience. Sexual tension, flirtation, desire, and eroticism alternate with fear, suspense, and even horror. And, of course, the brilliant direction makes you not want to blink for fear of missing even one of the impeccably designed and composed ethereal, exotic, dreamlike visions in scene after scene.I do not give a 10 rating lighting, but this film really deserves it. It is so far above the normal Hollywood fare.After seeing the film, I understand and agree with Coppola's explanation of why she chose not to include racial diversity in the cast. Because of the time period, the film would have had to address the racial divide of slavery and to do that justice would take the film in the opposite direction of Coppola's vision, which is to use an isolated group of people to show how fundamentally alike men and women are, even in a sex segregated society. A film can't be all things to all people. There are plenty of African-American films, for example, that do not address the issue of sex segregation in black culture even today. If you make sense of the world through the lens of gender stereotypes, or need big explosions to feel anything, you are probably not going to enjoy this film. But if you like complex human characters and sensuous subtlety, brilliant acting and virtuoso directing, don't miss seeing this film on the big screen.
Soul Eroding Effect of Hypocrisy (by elenasurikova)
Sophia Coppola addresses one of the most overlooked problems - a ubiquitous issue of hypocrisy that is reigning in the political games lately and remains an intrinsic part of our society. An isolated group of women in the movie represents a slice of society, while Colin Farrell, an outsider, who is simply struggling to find his place within it. The outsider is condemned for putting an act, but nobody says or does anything that reflects true feelings. Nothing comes from a genuine respect for another human being. False pretenses and masquerading based on flattery is the only way the characters <more>
communicate and stay together. And unfortunately, the only way we know. The only time we see their true colors is during paroxysms of rage, outbursts of lust, hatred and jealousy. But as long as the ugliness is hidden under the veneer of a civilized decorum, it is considered all right by the majority. Jealousy or repressed sexual desires is just what we see on the surface. All the inner mechanics of their behavior are driven by the fear of a misstep in the eyes of the polite society. The morality they know teaches them to never question the rules and never step out of the dogma-ruled world. Rules like 'keep your stitches even," shield them from facing real moral dilemmas. The unfolding drama is depicting how morality, which it's just a set of rules established by a self-proclaimed civilized society, has replaced all spiritual concepts. Morality, as a set of standards, is bent and stretched without mercy. Anything is possible for the sake of appearances and propriety. Those who dare to break those pretensions are ostracized, banished or simply discarded. Sofia Coppola showed the modern world slipping further down into the abyss of hypocrisy, when almost everyone fails to stay true to oneself, twists "morality" as one pleases and values what's proper over what's right.
Beautiful film anchored by a stunning performance for the ages by Kirsten Dunst—but lacking ambition (by aceshop3)
Sofia Coppola's newest film—directly after the egregious The Bling Ring—is a surprisingly transformative and subtle take on gender dynamics in the Gothic Deep South Civil War-era setting. The Beguiled is Coppola's first film after Lost in Translation to really deal with broad, overarching themes in any meaningful way and with a certain sort of humility, one that was perhaps missing from Marie Antoinette because even though that too was a fine film, its anachronistic depiction was at odds with Coppola's messaging, and far too on-the-nose.The Beguiled carries more than a whiff <more>
of The Virgin Suicides, Coppola's first and most emotionally-affecting film. It comes as no surprise to me that Sofia Coppola won Best Director for this film at Cannes only the second female director to do so and not the Palme D'Or, because the true achievement of this film lies not its plot but in the way Coppola captures the intricacies and manipulations of a cloistered, isolated environment. The environment in question is a girls' boarding school, run by Miss Martha Farnsworth played capably by Nicole Kidman but perhaps leaning a little more to camp than the film's other performances. Miss Martha wants to protect her girls from outside forces, but even she she slips up and lets a wounded enemy soldier McBurney, played by Colin Farrell with considerable aplomb and comfort, into the secluded orbit. This, of course, wreaks havoc as McBurney toys with the girls and women in the house, ranging from the sexually-charged Alicia Elle Fanning in a transition to an adult role somewhat akin to Kirsten Dunst in The Virgin Suicides but with less depth and screen time to the younger girls and even to the formidable Miss Martha herself.The true beauty and heart of this film, however, is the character of Edwina played to perfection by Sofia Coppola's muse, Kirsten Dunst. From The Virgin Suicides to Marie Antoinette and now The Beguiled, Coppola continues to plumb the depths of Dunst's range, allowing the underrated Dunst—a brilliant actress who has turned in incredible performance one after the other her whole career without once being recognized by the Academy—to give a performance for the ages. Her terse, buttoned-up, breathtakingly-desperate portrayal of a woman who had all but given up hope for a life of love outside the walls of the school is at the heart of the movie and gives its very humanity. It is also so far removed from Dunst's many other portrayals of depression, sadness, and ennui that it makes this viewer and the many critics who single out Dunst as the movie's true standout, marvel at her range, making her performance an early shoo-in for a Best Supporting Actress Oscar nod.All in all, Coppola's real feat is not simply adapting the book from the female perspectives— although it is undeniably that as well—but also for directing performances that feel human and real, and not particularly dated. This version of The Beguiled has been criticized in some quarters —justifiably, in my view—for excluding the crucial character of Mattie, the slave girl who in the original Don Siegel movie is entirely impervious to McBurney's charms. It is a complicated question, one that Coppola has addressed by saying she didn't want to portray slavery clumsily or disrespectfully. On the one hand, it is true that the specter of slavery looms over this film whether Ms. Coppola wanted it to or not because of the very nature of the period. However, clocking in at 94 minutes, it is hard to imagine this movie which already has a sprawling ensemble, being able to do justice to Mattie's character and not making a bloated narrative. Without her, however, Sofia Coppola has tried to side-step the complicity of white women in slavery, inadvertently highlighting it all the more. For me ultimately it is a difficult thing to square: Sofia Coppola unquestionably continues to highlight stories about privileged white people —there's really no compelling reason why the inclusion of the African-American character would have detracted or pulled away from the movie. If anything, it would have made the already sophisticated character work more layered.Sofia Coppola has made a wonderful and nuanced movie, even if it could have been better had more complexities of the Civil War era been tackled and Coppola had been more ambitious. Nonetheless, her clear command over the film shows Coppola's deep maturity, her place as a leading American auteur, and her remarkable collaboration with Kirsten Dunst as the best career decision she has made thus far. Maybe next time, she'll be more cognizant of the responsibility that entails and won't shy away from more sensitive subjects
I was a little taken aback by how much I was enthralled and near the end overwhelmed by The Beguiled. It may be due to some misplaced? expectations on my end when it comes to the director; I admire Sofia Coppola's films on the whole - Lost in Translation to be sure, but also parts of Marie Antoinette and Somewhere are striking and affecting in that 'is-it-shallow or is it deep' sort of ambiguous, poetic way she has with her cinematography and storytelling - but until now haven't felt like I connected that strongly with the characters or in the world that's created. Even <more>
with Murray and Johansson in LiT there was something that kept one at a distance again, this is just me, I'm sure many others feel different , despite the curious subjects at play. In The Beguiled, Coppola has a plot to work with - it's one that should be familiar if you've seen the 1971 film, which I can't help but get to - and it's a strong one. But she makes it her own and has a cast that KILLS across the board some more literally than others! I'll be here all night, folks .I have a feeling when Coppola got this material, either if it was seeing the Clint Eastwood/Don Siegel film first or reading the book, she read into it something differently than Siegel did, and I'm glad she did. This isn't a tawdry B-movie melodrama, which was what that movie certainly presented itself as, and in some ways was all the better for it has one seen Eastwood be that downright *sleazy* before or since? This is Coppola trying on something closer to a piece of Gothic literature; if Marie Antoinette was her fluffy costume-period biopic, this is her trying to tackle one of the Brontes, only through cinematic grammar. She rarely uses music in the film, certainly not much at all in the first half, and when it comes up it's eerie and brooding, a low synth that sounds like someone is somewhere about to do something sinister. Or, in this case, giving what may be just desserts for some.You know the story? A Union officer is wounded and discovered by a young girl who is part of an all-girl's school in the South during the later part of the Civil War; she's cared for by the Head-School-Marm and he becomes a focal point of attention for the girls, whether they're pre-pubescent, adolescent, or way past that. He is polite and gentlemanly when he wakes up all stitched up, and tries to make himself useful - will be stay, or will he have to go? Meanwhile as this question hangs over scenes, the soldier John tries to ingratiate himself in another way, with smouldering and sexy looks and glances hey, it's Colin Farrell looking like he took some of that medicine Paul Rudd's had to make himself look the same as he did 15 years ago, after all . But how will this all fall apart, we know we have to ask ourselves? If one's seen the trailer without having seen the original it may seem pretty clear - that was one of those trailers that gave away too much, I think, which is not fair for the majority of audiences that likely haven't seen one of the few Eastwood "sleepers" of the 70's so to speak - but there's still much more in the atmosphere that Coppola creates with her production team that is astounding. There's a dark tone to the cinematography so at times it seems like it's natural light only, but I'm not sure that's it; it feels diffuse, like we're looking at a painting, only it isn't the sort of period-painting creation of like a Kubrick Barry Lyndon. No, this is a little like Coppola taking her crack at Gothic horror where you can feel the sweat and stink of a plantation where slaves once worked. It feels raw and lived in, and the dresses the girls wear even have a bigger-than-life quality while still feeling organic to the story and place.By the way, there is one difference worth noting between the versions: Coppola doesn't have a slave character in the story the little girl that saves Farrell says away in one line, "the slaves left," which could mean any number of things considering the time, but it is post Emancipation as well , but this doesn't feel like she is trying to change things for the time. If anything the slave woman was one of the flaws for me in the original film, with a good actress saddled with a not totally believable portrayal of a slave woman. One might say Coppola chickened out or didn't go into what could've been more interesting/uncomfortable terrain. But I think she must've known a there's already enough as far as sexual politics and WOMEN vs MAN going on to mine, and b the story being more streamlined, this being shorter than the original, is a wise decision. There's not a wasted moment in this picture, and when there's a moment to see characters working or a meditative pause, it feels earned and part of the storytelling.Lastly, the acting: it's all wonderful, but Dunst is the one that I hope people remember the most here. Farrell and Kidman are the leads, but she's the one who has the most inner conflict, the person in this tale who has so much responsibility with these girls while at the same time wanting to choose her own path - maybe with John or maybe not. How can she? She's Coppola's one returning star now, and it's clear how her work is getting better, both in the script and how she gets to play it here as someone who has quiet desperation all over her. If one feels for anyone, whether it's in any mixed ways or not, it's for her. 9.5/10
Something rare; a remake that is actually better than an already outstanding original. Sofia Coppola's film of "The Beguiled" may offer a slightly more pro-feminist take on the subject than Don Siegel did but otherwise it's business as usual; the plot is very much the same and the creepy, Gothic feel remains unaltered though this time there is a much darker streak of black humour running through the picture. Against the aggressive sexuality of Clint Eastwood and the hysteria of Geraldine Page and Elizabeth Hartman we have a much more subtle and subdued Colin Farrell, now a <more>
potential Irish mercenary fighting for the Yankees, as much a victim as a seducer to Nicole Kidman's steely, and still gorgeous, headmistress and Kirsten Dunst's tremulous spinster not to mention the kind of little girls whose idea of fun is probably pulling the wings off butterflies.The pace, at least for the first two-thirds of the picture, is deceptively slow until all hell breaks loose and the film gets nicely sanguine. Coppola handles these tonal shifts with considerable assurance, she won the Best Director prize at Cannes , and draws superb performances from her small cast. Farrell, in particular, has seldom been better and both Kidman and Dunst are bodice-rippingly good. It's also gorgeously photographed by Philippe le Sourd with frame after frame resembling old prints brought to life. Of course, this won't be to everyone's taste. Anyone expecting an action picture or a conventional horror film will be bitterly disappointed. This is an art-house movie that has sneaked into the multiplex and I loved every minute of it.
A Film That Does Beguile Its Audience (by jadepietro)
RATING: ☆☆☆☆½ out of 5 GRADE: B+ THIS FILM IS HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.IN BRIEF: A lively re-telling of a Gothic melodrama that camouflages its silly trappings with excellent acting and masterful direction.SYNOPSIS: A wounded Union soldier seeks some Southern comfort.JIM'S REVIEW: "One man...seven women...in a strange house!" That was the original tag-line for the 1971 Southern Gothic melodrama, The Beguiled, starring Clint Eastwood. That film was a guilty pleasure of sexual repression during the Civil War against the free love vibes of the seventies . Its viewpoint was a <more>
warped war of the sexes, eventually leading to Mr. Eastwood's emasculation. The anticlimactic ending remains the same in both Ms. Coppola's version as in Mr. Siegel's which is far as removed from the novel's denouncement as possible . But this remake tones down the melodrama completely and turns the film into a serious and thought provoking drama.Writer / Director Sofia Coppola has taken Don Siegel's cult film and given it a revisionist spin. Her battle of the sexes tale has streamlined its story, eliminated any vestige of the slavery issue and a backstory of incest and child molestation. She has made some major improvement to delineate the characters and their ulterior motives and altered what was once a half-baked tale of carnal lust, setting her new story on a slow simmer. All traces of pulp have been removed and the film slowly, sometimes too slowly, percolate in its own juices. No longer an overly melodramatic tale of unbridled passion, her historical drama is a re-imagined world where willful spinsters and manly scoundrels thrives. Ms. Coppola's film version focuses on the manipulation of the male upon the female rather than the reversal of this premise. These ladies take female empowerment to a whole other level.￼Colin Farrell plays John McBurney, a wounded Union soldier. Found bloody, handsome, and weaken, he is taken to Miss Martha Farnsworth Seminary for Young Ladies to recover from his injuries. The war raging outside its gate seems like a mere afterthought compared to the battle- lines that are soon drawn inside this less-stately mansion. ￼As John is nursed back to health, he begins to bond with this brood and uses his sexuality to his own advantage. The place is a hothouse of wanton desires and sexual tension as the ladies ogle and obsess about this hunk of man-bait, although Miss Farnsworth a superb Nicole Kidman will have none of that behavior under her roof. After all, there must be a price to be paid for illicit sex and sinful thoughts. Vengeance has its sweet reward, or does it? ￼Mr. Farrell is perfectly cast. His interpretation of McBurney is more sexual predator than victim. He knowingly acts to charm and "beguile" his female prey. Those objects of desire include Alicia Eli Fanning , a lusty teenage Lolita, Edwina Kristin Dunst , who may or may not be his true love, Amy Oona Laurence , a sweet innocent child who soon realizes that evil does exist in this world, and Miss Farnsworth herself. The acting is solid throughout, especially Ms. Kidman who plays the pious headmistress caught in a power struggle of conflicting emotions. From her subtle come-hither glances and nervous reactions in some scenes to deliberate controlled manipulation and righteous indignation in others, the actress creates a character whose words never are quite in sync with her actions. This keeps the audience guessing about her real motives throughout the film. The scenes involving her and Mr. Farrell serve to highlight the rivalry between their characters and up the ante of psychological suspense while downplaying some of the strained and palpable sexual tension.￼Ms. Coppola directs with authority and skillfully ratchets up the tension. She painstakingly shows the mundane aspects of 19th century life and leisurely shows that period with memorable images that help to establish her characters and the era with where they survived a close-up of a child's treasure trove of inanimate objects, wisps of cannons' black smoke in the distance against a dusk sky, scenes of proper ladylike behavior from evening prayer groups to classes on proper etiquette . There is such poetic clarity in her vision which makes her film all the more compelling.Production values are high. Philippe Le Sourd's cinematography is stunning. His use of candle- lit corridors and shadowy corners add to the overall atmosphere of this Gothic house of horror. Lovely period costumes by Stacey Battat add that subtle touch of Southern genteel respectability and the dissonant music score by Phoenix feeds into its penny dreadful material source.￼The film is all romantic notions turned on its head and sexual restraint stretched to the limits. It hides the pulp beneath its splendid veneer with Ms. Coppola's strong direction and the fine acting from its cast. The moviegoer remains involved from the start. The Beguiled does just that and more.
A Surprisingly Funny Period Piece on Desire and a Man's Corrupting Influence on Women (by Jared_Andrews)
If you've ever wondered how it would look to watch a group of women ranging in age from 12 to 40something all compete sexually over the same man, wonder no more. The Beguiled delivers that, with a twist—the story takes place during the Civil War at a school for girls.As you can imagine, the women and younger girls all behave in a way befitting the old-fashioned version of proper. Their boldest displays of seduction involve putting on a necklace and slightly revealing their self-proclaimed "lovely shoulders." I believe exposed midriffs or cleavage-baring tops may have been <more>
jailable offenses for women during this time period; I would have to check the history books to confirm that.What I'm saying is the women's displays of sexual pursuit toward this male stranger are hilariously tame by 2017's standards. And that's the point. This story of refined women who are deceived and corrupted by a mysterious male soldier would have been viewed as a tale of cautionary horror tale in the late 1800s. Today much of the movie plays as a comedy.One scene involving the head of household, the oldest woman played by Nicole Kidman , giving the soldier a sponge bath is pure comedic gold.The execution of the story, while subtle, deserves praise. All actions and subsequent reactions of the characters are appropriately tame. While this makes sense given the subject matter, it does put a cap on the excitement level. The climactic scene is the equivalent of a golf clap, classy and satisfying, but ultimately falling short of wowing.That's basically the movie in a nutshell: outwardly displays of class and grace with clear hints of molten lava bubbling beneath the surface. The characters keep hidden all their visceral urges and thoughts behind a mask of politeness. It's up to the viewers to see through the deception.
A quiet film that builds to a crisis (by hortschdan)
Impatient viewers need not attend this film. It builds slowly, but that is for good reason. The tension is subtle but ultimately palpable. And then the dam bursts. The remote setting makes the sheltered school girls and their teachers all the more isolated from harsher realities even though cannon fire of a Civil War battle is all but a constant in the background. A quiet film in its way, but rewarding. If you are looking for non-stop action, don't bother. Quiet and then not so quiet emotions rule this film.
Restrained direction and strong performances (by clivehodges)
Definition of beguile: to charm, often in a deceptive way. That's exactly what the corporal set out to do for his own benefit. I appreciated Sofia Coppola's restrained touch and admired the strong performances by the cast. The cinematography was superb; the candle-lit scenes particularly sublime. The slow pace was in keeping with the story being told. The sexual tension of the two adults and the naïveté of the teenage student were well handled. Some critics have compared this film with the 1971 version directed by Don Siegel and concluded Coppola's movie lacks grit. I <more>
disagree. If 'grit' is indomitable courage, toughness, resolution the occupants of the boarding school had grit. They also had determination, doggedness, fortitude, gameness and guts ... as well as mettle, nerve, perseverance, pluck and tenacity. Some critics have said this film is bland. Again, I disagree. It is restrained yes. It is beautiful, languid, finely crafted but far, far from bland. Sofia's interpretation of Thomas Cullinan's novel is no way inferior to Don Siegel's. Both are creative artists; both interpretations are equally relevant. Comparison is offensive.