In the Civil War-set The Beguiled, Colin Farrell plays a wounded Union soldier taken in by the occupants of an all-female boarding school tucked away deep in the wilds of Confederate territory. Nicole Kidman plays the school’s headmistress, Kirsten Dunst plays a teacher and Elle Fanning plays one of the young students. If all that sounds familiar, it’s because The Beguiled was done as a film once before, starring Clint Eastwood and directed by Don Siegel.
In the new version, as in the Eastwood original, things take a dark and sinister turn for the soldier. Sofia Coppola directs the new film, which, like the original, is based on the novel by Thomas Cullinan.
A new trailer for The Beguiled (via Focus Features) gives us a peek inside the movie’s twisted vision of jealousy, manipulation and unleashed sexuality. The clip emphasizes the growing tension as a convalescing Farrell begins amusing himself by going to work on the seemingly vulnerable women of the school. Much to his horror, Farrell soon finds out that these women aren’t nearly as powerless as they seem. Nicole Kidman cuts a formidable figure as the school’s headmistress, an experienced woman who seems to get what Farrell is all about. Elle Fanning has the role of the sexually curious young woman who becomes the forbidden object of Farrell’s desire.
Sofia Coppola has explored odd male-female relationships in the past, often with an emphasis on women who take on older men as father-figures, but the dynamics here go beyond the merely complex and into the flat-out gothic. Coppola’s take on the story is bound to be more psychologically probing than Siegel’s when it comes to the female characters, Siegel having been primarily a director of male-centric action films. Though Eastwood was solid in the original film, Colin Farrell may prove to be a more effective and subtle actor when it comes to portraying a character who is both irresistibly charming and totally lacking in scruples.
Among other things, The Beguiled marks Sofia Coppola’s return to period storytelling 11 years after her sumptuous and energetic but historically less-than-accurate Marie Antoinette. Coppola’s films are always amazing to look at and with its dark, gothic period trappings, The Beguiled figures to be yet another visual feast from the director. The film also seems more ambitious than her last work, The Bling Ring, a movie that despite its provocative subject matter felt perhaps a bit tame.
The Beguiled is set for an official U.S. release on June 23, 2017 but before that it will screen in competition at the Cannes Film Festival. Hopefully Cannes audiences will be kinder to Coppola’s new film than they were to Marie Antoinette, which received a chilly reception from the French back in 2006.
Source: Focus Features