Adapted from the novel of the same name by Thomas P. Cullinan, ‘The Beguiled’ is written & directed by Sofia Coppola. This adaptation also acts as a remake of the 1971 film starring Clint Eastwood. Despite the white-washing controversy surrounding the film ‘The Beguiled’ won Coppola the Best Director award at this years Cannes Film Festival. Thanks to this festival buzz alongside the impressive cast there has been rife anticipation among audiences.
The film takes place in 1864 Virginia during the American Civil War. The story is set at a prestigious school for girls. One of the students discovers an injured Union Army solider in the woods and it’s the relationship between him and the women at the school which becomes the focus of the narrative. The only substantial male role in the film is filled by Colin Farrell. He plays the injured Corporal John McBurney who quickly becomes the object of the girls’ fascination. He successfully manages to conjure up chemistry with the whole cast and demonstrates the numerous different sides to his characters personality very effectively. Leading the female cast we have Nicole Kidman who portrays the head teacher Miss Farnsworth. Kidman is brilliant in this role, one of her best in recent years for sure. The same goes for the rest of the cast; Elle Fanning, Kirsten Dunst & Oona Laurence all play girls at the school. Each bringing something unique to the story but each doing so with great ability. These strong performances made for some fantastic character dynamics which go along way in enriching the overall narrative.
The narrative itself might be a little slow for those expecting the pulse-pounding Gothic horror which the trailers present. In reality what viewers will see is a slow burning period drama with a progressing level of tension. Expectations could well play a large role in how much audiences will enjoy this picture. A large proportion of the film actually features comedy as the girls fight for the affection of the Corporal. These scenes are always amusing and it’s those interesting character dynamics which I already mentioned that make this element so successful. Like the progression of the tension the comedy develops into darker territory as the film goes on culminating with a wonderfully sinister tone. There are several interesting themes included in the narrative as well which contribute further to making the film so engaging. The discussions of ethics alongside Christianity was a personal highlight of mine, although only really touched upon it still added a further level to the story.
So whilst slightly exaggerated in it’s marketing ‘The Beguiled’ remains a highly engaging & entertaining piece of film. The cast are all tremendous in their respective roles allowing for many engrossing scenes as you try to predict how each character will act. The story draws you in with it’s subtle comedy and only demands more of your attention as it slowly evolves into a darker period drama thriller, easily becoming one of the years best period dramas.
Rating – 8/10
Question: What is your favourite film with a predominately female cast?
(Leave your answers in the comments section below!)
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