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The Beguiled (2017)

Sofia Coppola is one of the most tonally distinct directors of today. Her first crop of films were incredibly original (The Virgin Suicides, Lost in Translation), and while her latest films (The Bling Ring) were equally as ambitious they ended up ending with a bit of a letdown.

The Beguiled is Coppola’s latest directorial outing. It’s an adaptation of the 1966 novel (not to be confused as a remake of the Clint Eastwood film), the premise of which is a wounded Union soldier (Colin Farrell) taken in by a Virginia women’s school during the American Civil War. In their secluded building in Virginia, the story unfolds as the soldier tries to seduce the students (Elle Fanning and Agourney Rice amongst others) as well as the teachers (the matriarch played by Nicole Kidman, while Kirsten Dunst plays her helper), or is it them seducing him?

The first two thirds of the film are more of a psychological drama than anything else. Coppola is very adept at having her characters communicate through the slightest of gestures and subtleties. However, in order for the tension to brew Coppola takes on a slow tempo that inevitably begins to drag and bore the audience. Thankfully, Coppola’s cast is more than capable at spicing up the mood whenever you get too drowsy.

But as the last act begins to unfold there’s a sudden radical shift. The Beguiled suddenly turns into a tonally morbid and horror-like flick. It takes viewers a while to get accustomed to this sudden change that seems to come out of nowhere; and once you do get accustomed the entire films suddenly ends abruptly. The finale is framed in a very anti-climactic manner that’ll make you raise your eyebrows and say, “that’s it?” It’s a shame since the first half of the film is incredibly calculated and cunning, and then it’s spoiled with a rushed ending.

A special mention should to be paid to the cast: Kidman in particular is absolutely stellar, and would be my pick out of the other phenomenal actors who each had a shining moment in the film.

The majority of the film is enjoyable enough, if not a bit slow, but the tonal split by the end is incredibly damaging, making the whole of the journey a bit of a let down.



About Young Critic

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I've been writing on different version of this website since February of 2013. I originally founded the website in a film-buff phase in high school, but it has since continued through college and into my adult life. Young Critic may be getting older, but the love and passion for film is forever young. 

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