The Beguiled: Movie Review

Updated on July 7, 2017
popcollin profile image

Collin's been a movie critic since 2009. In real life he works in marketing and is also a novelist ("Good Riddance" published in Oct 2015).

The Beguiled
The Beguiled | Source

Like the distant thumps of cannon fire that echo in the air around the Virginia plantation where it’s set, The Beguiled exudes an air of impending doom—a slow-burn of trepidation, flirtation, and finally infatuation that will get under your skin and infect you with its sinister vibe.

The latest from director Sofia Coppola stars Colin Farrell as Corporal John McBurney, a seriously wounded Union soldier in 1864. A mercenary from Dublin, he has deserted the battlefield when he’s discovered by Amy (Oona Laurence) a teen-aged student at the nearby Farnsworth Seminary for Young Girls. Headmistress Miss Martha (Nicole Kidman) isn’t too keen on taking the corporal in at first, but being the God-fearing woman she is, she can’t deny the man her charity. Amy’s fellow students are another matter, outright upset and/or terrified that not only has a man been allowed into their midst but one who’s wearing the uniform of the wrong army.

It doesn’t take long at all for the sweet-talking and charismatic soldier to begin to grow on the women (and girls), particularly teacher Edwina Morrow (Kirsten Dunst). Glares of trepidation soon give way to guarded tolerance before progressing through polite waves to tittering giggles. The game is clearly afoot, but it’s never clear who’s playing whom or who’s winning at any given moment, even as the film reaches its bloody, violent climax.

Coppola, whose work here earned her Best Director honors at Cannes this past May, makes a welcome return to the beautiful, restrained film-making that earned her an Oscar nomination in 2003 for Lost in Translation. Using the most muted color palette since perhaps John Hillcoat’s desolate 2009 adaptation of The Road, she puts the audience at ease even as the story makes us feel anything but. It’s an unsettling contrast that accomplishes her mission perfectly; we’re on edge wondering what will happen next while simultaneously marveling at the poetic and subtly beautiful tableau on the screen in front of us.

Coppola also adapted the screenplay herself, from the novel by Thomas Cullinan, tweaking the source material ever so slightly, making the women the protagonists, not the wounded corporal. It was a brilliant decision, making the film that much more intimate and allowing the women’s jealousy and wiles to take center stage while keeping McBurney largely in the dark.

After a shaky string of films, Kidman has been on a roll lately, including HBO's Big Little Lies and her Oscar-nominated turn in Lion. She keeps that streak alive with a breathtaking and powerful performance here, joined by the always-solid Dunst. Farrell, likewise, does some of the better work of his career in The Beguiled, as the lone male character (save a few minor one-line roles) in the sea of fierce estrogen.

The Beguiled is a haunting, even frightening film that will burrow into your brain and leave you shaken. It’s also one of the more subtly stunning achievements to hit theaters this year, a true beauty that never lets you stop guessing what lies beneath.

Rating

4.5/5 stars

'The Beguiled' trailer

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, reelrundown.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: "https://reelrundown.com/privacy-policy#gdpr"

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)