You lie underneath a sunken tree injured from the bloodshed of a war you were barely able to escape from. A startled young girl stumbles upon you and, out of the kindness of her heart, assists you back to a school exclusively for young ladies. Over weeks, these women recuperate you as you feel comfortable around them. You learn that the girls are taught to maintain manners and will act upon anything the teachers instruct them. The ladies, whilst welcoming, have an odd allure bubbling under their surface – perhaps it is their shock at harboring a male underneath their roof. Nights pass and you engage in playful flirting with the headmistress (Miss Martha – Nicole Kidman), a teacher (Edwina – Kirsten Dunst), and even a student (Alicia – Elle Fanning). They pleasantly return the favor. But who do you choose? Which room do you visit in the late hours of the night? Choose wisely; as two will feel heartbreak and crippled at the chance of romance. And jealousy can turn dangerous. Even fatal.
American Gothic: Acclaimed director Sofia Coppola tells a story of betrayal and danger within her remake of The Beguiled. From the opening shot of the film, Coppola oozes class and sincerity when conveying an engaging narrative by instantaneously grounding the audience in a Civil War setting evidenced by the outstanding details of the costumes. Then Phoenix’s sublime score kicks in which elevates the entire sequence. It is so downplayed but is something that consistently lingers in the background creating a fabulous sense of unease. From that moment onward, you realize that you’re in the presence of a film that has been reworked and polished to perfection it highlights the true passion the cast and crew have for true film.
Academy Awards: Shockingly, The Beguiled, didn’t make an appearance at the 90th Academy Awards. Other than the phenomenal directing, I was stunned by the variety of incredible performances on show. Kidman as Miss Martha and Dunst as Edwina are both excellent at portraying conflict in their characters. To start, they are both stubborn in harboring a man at the girls’ school but as the narrative progresses, we see Farrell get under their skin forcing them to question their morals. Honestly, the writing and casting go side-by-side throughout. Furthermore, Hollywood youngster Elle Fanning continues to boost her early acting chops as Alicia. Fanning is the catalyst that ultimately taints Farrell and causes the school to implode. Fanning is sensational at subtly initiating sexual tension so razor-sharp that it emanates through the screen so the audience can physically feel it. Farrell, on the other hand, isn’t a presence like the others but does a good enough job of creating empathy for the character.
Recognition:Being shot entirely on film is a great technique to transport the audience to a different setting but also looks amazing - every shot just looks like a historical painting. The craftsmanship behind the film is unparalleled by anything I have ever seen. Everything feels so thematically appropriate at any given time and Coppola wastes no screen time. With such a precise director, The Beguiled clocks in at just over ninety minutes and is a satisfying watch from start to finish. It is a true shame that The Beguiled doesn’t get the recognition it deserves but will most likely become a favorite in the future.
An absolute knock-out from Sofia Coppola - everything about this gem just screams quality. A joy of cinema until the credits roll.