Sofia Coppola is without a doubt my favorite female filmmaker. I have to see The Virgin Suicides again but everything else from her has been immensely enjoyable. Through watching her films its easy to locate connected themes and her films are chock full of memorable female characters. I never read the novel nor have I seen the original film with Clint Eastwood. So outside of what little the trailers showed, I didn’t know what to expect. After watching this I can happily say I really enjoyed this film. Coppola is at the height of her craft once again.
The film is about a “Yankee” northern soldier who is found wounded in the woods during wartime Civil War. He is taken in to an all girls school, where the headmistress and other members are at first very hesitant with giving hospitality to a man from the other side of the country. Many of the females get accustomed to the man and soon start to develop feelings for him. His motives aren’t completely known which provides for an air of mystery and danger. Apparently, Sofia Coppola took some liberties telling the story for this adaptation but I found out it to be a slow brooding and engaging film which also happens to look stunning.
The acting is great on all fronts. Nicole Kidman has had a great resurgence the past few years. Farrell and Dunst are at the top of their game. And of course, Elle Fanning the alluring beauty does so well as a slightly lust filled youth vying for the feelings of the wounded bed ridden man. As with nearly all of Coppola’s shots the film is beautifully shot. Framed shots of the house and the woods and the interior decor take you straight back to the era. The characters are so well mannered, this is actually quite a polite film (apart from one or two outbursts from Farell). There is a lot going on internally with the three female leads (and Farrell for that matter) that needed exploring. However, I think what we have adds to the air of mystery.
Its hard to figure out what character motivations were. The Beguiled still remains to sit pretty on its surface. The film portrays female infatuation followed by hate and doing what needs to be done to take care of a threat. The film seems muted in color and dark for most of the picture. The costumes and set design are so great, Coppola is so perceptive to how her films look. Like most of her films this is easily accessible as the film doesn’t delve too deep into female sexuality or violence. This is definitely going to need a rewatch as it has the hallmarks of a film that grows on you.