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REVIEW — “The Beguiled”

The Beguiled is set in Virginia, 3 years deep into the Civil War. Corporal John McBurney (Colin Farrel) is an injured soldier that ran away from battle only to be found by a young girl that takes him into a woman’s seminary. The women here are intrigued by the arrival of a man into their home, as they are living a sheltered life away from society and people. The women at the house jump at the opportunity to meet the dashing McBurney, causing tensions to heat up to an extreme boiling point.

Now, it would be unfair to start this review without talking about how incredible the acting was. The cast is made up of a small ensemble of girls (along with Farrel) and that’s all the film really uses. Well, that’s because that’s all it really needs. Miss Martha (Nicole Kidman), Edwina (Kirsten Dunst), and Alicia (Elle Fanning) provide some powerhouses performances to really elevate a lot of the story. Even if you took out all the dialogue from the script, the actresses would still have done a great job due to their incredible physical acting. A simple exchange of glances proves to add so much more intensity to each scene. Oh, and I can’t forget to mention the rest of the girls. Sure they weren’t the top billed members of the cast but these young girls really do a good job filling up the screen with big acting for small characters.  Collin Farrel, as always, does an incredible job portraying his character. To be honest, I wouldn’t count him out of an Oscar nomination. Hell, I wouldn’t count out anyone for an Oscar nomination.

If you’ve seen a Sofia Coppola film, you’re probably aware the style and look of her films. The Beguiled only continues her tradition of using low-key ethereal qualities to really add to the story. The cinematography was cool and sharp, and it seemed to me like it was shot using only natural light. Either way, the effect of the cinematography was terrific and some of the shots in the film are to die for. The editing, however, was a little wonky. There were a few continuity errors and some of the shot-reverse shot stuff was a little tiring. Now we have to talk about the direction. After all, Sofia Coppola won Best Director at the Cannes film festival for The Beguiled, so I was very interested in seeing how her direction shined. However I must say, as good as the direction is, I can’t say it’s high caliber material. I feel like what could have been seen as good direction was more attributed to the amazing script (Which was adapted by Coppola, so what really am I getting at?), pristine acting, and atmospheric shots. Now I’m not saying she did a poor job directing, it’s just I can’t say I’m sure about her winning Best Director when it’s all said and done.

I know it’s early, but I’d love to see Coppola snatch an Adapted Screenplay Oscar. This story is no joke guys. The Beguiled is adapted from a novel by Thomas Cullinan, and it’s also technically a remake of the 1971 film with Clint Eastwood. However, Coppola has stated that it relates closer to the book than the 1971 flick. Coppola’s tight screenplay doesn’t stray away from her signature minimalist writing style, proving again that less is more. The dialogue is well placed, and the scenes are set up so well it’s impossible for you not to enjoy watching these characters flourish. I’ve seen some criticism of the film “slow” pacing, but I feel as though the gradual rise of the story is what really completes it.

All in all, The Beguiled is an excellent movie from start to finish. The issues I have with the film are so few and far between that it’s hard for me to really rag on the film. If you’re looking for great performances, an impeccable plot, and a beautiful looking piece of cinema then The Beguiled is for you. 4.5/5

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