There are many great Civil War movies set on the battlefield. The Beguiled is not one of those movies. Rather than the battlefield, this film takes place within a Southern girls’ boarding school. The school is run by the stern Miss Martha (Nicole Kidman), while most classes are taught by repressed school teacher Edwina (Kirsten Dunst). There are only a handful of students, with the most noteworthy being Alicia, the eldest (Elle Fanning).
The Beguiled Review – The Greatest Horrors Can Occur Away From The Battlefield.
The story begins when the women bring Corporal McBurney (Colin Farrell), an injured Union soldier, into the school. The soldier slowly begins charming the girls and women of the school. To the youngest girls, he plays the role of a friend or older brother. To Miss Martha, he plays the role of a patient and friend. Alicia finds herself flirting with this fascinating older man, while he attempts to capture Edwina’s heart.
The Beguiled takes its time allowing the story to unfold. We watch as the women fall for McBurney’s charms and allow themselves to feel safe with the enemy soldier. This safety, however, is only a facade. As the story continues, The Beguiled becomes a gothic horror, with dangerous rivalries and forbidden sexuality. It is beautifully told by writer/director Sofia Coppola.
The Beguiled is based on a 1966 book written by Thomas Cullinan. It was also previously made into a film in 1971, starring Clint Eastwood. Coppola’s adaptation takes many elements from both versions, while finding ways to make the story her own.
In Coppola’s hands, The Beguiled is a story about strong women who have learned to take care of themselves. The women in The Beguiled have spent many years without the help of a man. They are intrigued by McBurney, but they were not helpless without him. Throughout the film, Miss Martha proves herself to be stronger in spirit than the wounded soldier. Kidman and Farrell have an easy chemistry and their scenes, in particular, are fascinating to watch.
The Beguiled shows that sometimes the greatest horrors can occur away from the battlefield.
The Beguiled opens in New York and Los Angeles on June 23rd, and will open in other cities on June 30th.