Over a lifetime of movie going I have left approximately five films; Sofia Coppola’s 2010 “Somewhere” was one of the few; shamefully I stayed for the entirety of “The Beguiled”, a film so flavorless, dimensionless and hypnotically dull that disbelief outweighed enervation; why did this film not cease to be before dumping it on the unsuspecting public?
The monotony commences in Virginia, 1864; a mercenary, wounded Union soldier, “Corporal John McBurney” (Colin Farrell) is nursed back to health by seven testosterone deprived women, housed in withered glory in a woman’s boarding school; run by matron “Martha” (insipid portrayal by Nicole Kidman) and her second in command “Edwina” (bland Kirsten Dunst, a favorite of Coppola’s); their days comprised of French lessons, sewing and mushroom picking. A “beguiling” masculine presence (Farrell does what he can with a limited script) sets the stage for female competition over the hapless soldier; dressing for dinner scenes, giggling, sophomoric flirting led to viewers laughing incredulously.
Lush cinematography by Philippe Le Sourd surrounds the gated grounds, protecting the frustrated, conniving women.
Predictability ensues and an “unbeguiled” audience exit, knowing with certainty, that they had been royally de-bunked.
ONE & 1/2 STAR
Peneflix, I agree with your review. This weekend, I watched both the Sofia Coppola version of The Beguiled in the theater and afterwards the 1971 original with Clint Eastwood on HBOGO. The original is much better! It gives more context for the Civil War (instead of just faint gunshots in the background) and conveys how vulnerable the girls were living alone. The original also gives more background on each of the characters to better understand their motivations; whereas in today’s version, I felt there were gaps in their development that you had to fill in on your own because their actions didn’t always make sense. I found it interesting they chose to leave out the slave character from the original — maybe to be politically correct — but the story felt more historically accurate and interesting with her there. The new adaptation was dimly lit with candlelight and difficult to see — not a great atmosphere for a dark theater! I was expecting it to be more of an intense thriller from the previews, but it left me wanting more. I would recommend seeing the original, if only to compare it to the newer version.