The Joxer Film Review of The Beguiled..
Written and Directed by Sofia Coppola and based on the novel of the same name [originally called A Painted Devil],The Beguiled is a remake of the classic Clint Eastwood movie of 1971.
Starring Nicole Kidman,Kirsten Dunst,Elle Fanning and Colin Farrell,The film tells the story of a Union “bluebelly” soldier Corporal John McBurney ,injured during the US Civil War in Virginia and found in the woods by young Amy as she searches for mushrooms who takes him to where she lives,a girls school in the middle of nowhere run by Miss Martha Farnsworth [Kidman] and where only Miss Martha and 6 girls remain after the rest of the house has been abandoned due to the ever nearing battles.Martha reluctantly takes in the injured soldier and as the ladies all become infatuated with him tensions and passions stir and trusts become brittle as the girls nurse the injured soldier back to health and fall under his spell..
This version of the 1971 cult gothic Clint Eastwood film takes the view more from the female side of the story and goes for a more PC take on things and ultimately fails to deliver a satisfying story in the long run.Gone are the slaves,gone is the darkly incestuous back story of Miss Martha and gone is the character of Hallie,the cynical black housekeeper of the original film portrayed by Mae Mercer.Slavery just gets a fleeting one sentenced mention in this film and is quickly forgotten,almost erased from history here as if the producers of this all-white cast were trying to tell us something..no diversity in this film that’s for sure!
What we get instead is loads of moody,slow panning camera work with masses of misty woods and brooding women with longings not being taken care of and plenty of corsets and heaving bosoms as the girls [and women] use their charms to woo the injured Colin Farrell as he lays on the bed with his leg wrapped in bandages trying his best to channel his inner-Eastwood and only managing to remind the viewer how good Eastwood’s film is..
That is half the problem with this film,it smoulders with half-hearted sexual tensions but never actually sizzles into anything of note,with a complete lack of fulfillment come the end and leaving your reviewer wondering why they even bothered with this needless remake that loses all the gothic sub-horror and just sugar coats over the topics raised in the 1971 version.
Kidman’s Southern-belle accent wobbles throughout the film like a 1970’s BBC TV programme backdrop,whilst Kirsten Dunst tries her best to raise the drama level with Elle Fanning giving good support as a sexually frustrated pair competing for the Corporal’s attention as the film meekly meanders along with stodgy sub-plots played out to a minimallistic music soundtrack that doesn’t help or enhance the movie one bit.
Come the end of the film which just finishes with a whimper [and more mist], the only thing your reviewer wanted to do was watch the far superior Clint Eastwood version as soon as possible and try and erase this version out of existence as quickly as this film had erased black history from it’s..
The film is about as gothic as Count Duckula and just as scary.It is 90 minutes that I will not get back and the nicely shot camera work and direction couldn’t stop the fact that the film annoyed me throughout at the way history was being retold just for the PC brigade..
If you want to watch The Beguiled,watch the far superior and more accurately portrayed 1971 version and just give this mucky mushroomed side dish a miss..
Joxer Film Rating
a generous 3 stars