Sunday, June 25, 2017

Movie Review … The Beguiled

‘The Beguiled’ is based on Thomas P. Cullinan’s 1966 novel of the same name.  Following on from the 1971 Clint Eastwood starring version, this second film adaptation has an interesting premise standing the test of time.  Exploring the myriad of emotions caused by a person’s presence, it wrings much drama from its slight tale.  It’s a good fit for director Sofia Coppola who has made a career out of filming interesting subjects.  She is well served by a cast highlighting dilemmas life often throws at us.

As the American civil war rages on, a girls’ school at Virginia grapples with its own crisis.  Isolated from outside forces, their existence is shattered when a wounded Union soldier appears.  Taken in by the ladies the soldier, John (Colin Farrell), swiftly causes drama.  The school’s inhabitants including Martha (Nicole Kidman), Edwina (Kirsten Dunst) and Alicia (Elle Fanning) are unsure of what to make of him.  Events reach an impasse as jealousy, romance and desire tears apart a once peaceful place.

‘The Beguiled’ plays like a biblical morality tale.  The girls’ school is presented as a Garden of Eden of peace in a troubled world.  John almost becomes the serpent entering the oasis and leading them into temptation.  The ladies reaction to his demeanour is effectively highlighted with Coppola’s understated direction.  She allows events to play out without any melodramatic hysteria with the character’s natural reactions generating authenticity.  You understand why each character behaves in different ways revealing the insecurities they have about their place in life.

‘The Beguiled’ works because of the strong performances.  All put in solid renditions of emotionally fractured characters with the younger cast members giving as much vitality as their more experienced co-stars.  Kidman and Farrell convey the mindsets of their roles well with their hidden agendas affecting those around them.  ‘The Beguiled’ stands on the strength of the women’s solidarity against John’s sinister nature.  The performers handle the tense script with genuine skill with the cinematography also aiding in crafting the enclosed surrounds in which the ladies live.

Moving at a brisk pace but packing much into its run-time, ‘The Beguiled’ is engaging.  The director and cast do justice to the original book whose simple story continues to resonate in today’s increasingly complex world.

 Movie Review Rating out of 10:  7

Movie Review by Patrick Moore

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Patrick Moore's Movie Review is an alternative look at movie releases in Australia.


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