The Beguiled 2017
DVD + Digital HD with Ultravio
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From acclaimed writer/director Sofia Coppola (Lost in Translation) comes an atmospheric thriller that unfolds at a secluded girls' boarding school in Civil War-era Virginia. When a wounded Union soldier, Corporal McBurney (Colin Farrell), is found near the school, he's taken in by its headmistress, Miss Martha (Nicole Kidman). As the young women provide refuge and tend to his wounds, the house is taken over with sexual tension and dangerous rivalries when McBurney seduces several of the girls. Taboos are broken and events take an unexpected turn in this gripping and haunting thriller also starring Kirsten Dunst and Elle Fanning.
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Miss Martha (Nicole Kidman) runs a girls boarding school out of her mansion in Virginia. As loyal Southern women and devout Christians, they will never be the same when a wounded Union soldier enters their lives and home. If they report Corporal McBurney (Colin Farrell) to the confederate soldiers, he will face certain imprisonment or possible execution. The Christian thing to do is to nurse his wounds and decide later his fate.
THE BEGUILED is a visually stunning period piece. The mood lighting and costumes tell a story in themselves. They handsome and mysterious McBurney is just a mercenary from Ireland just trying to survive and make a living. He doesn't have a side in this conflict. Here arises the dilemma of just what to do with this rogue soldier.
The adult women, Miss Martha and Edwina (Kirsten Dunst) are sexually repressed woman in a time where etiquette and manners ruled. Alicia (Elle Fanning) is a sexually blossoming teenager. Add in several confused pre-teens and handsome soldier, and trouble is sure to ensue.
Farrell is an underrated actor who really has been showing his talent lately in more off-beat roles. Here he shines again as the mysterious McBurney. Is he the innocent, grateful man he appears to be or does a sinister side lurk beneath that handsome face? The pacing is slow until the trouble begins and THE BEGUILED turns into a thriller as all cards are on the table and nothing is as it seems.
It certainly is an interesting premise. What would God-fearing women do during a brutal war when an enemy soldier is in need. Does human compassion find it has no sides in war? THE BEGUILED could have been so much more but the fine cast will keep your interest.
Very succinctly, the outline of the tale follows - While imprisoned in a Confederate girls' boarding school, an injured Union soldier cons his way into each of the lonely women's hearts, causing them to turn on each other, and eventually, on him.
But with more atmosphere included the story is an impressive historical setting as realized by designer Anne Ross and captured on atmospheric (if a bit too dark) cinematography by Philippe Le Sourd. And a more insightful synopsis describes this psychological drama about love and betrayal during the Civil War. As the costly American Civil War still rages on, Jane (Angourie Rice) a 12-year-old student of the forgotten Miss Martha Farnsworth's Seminary for Young Ladies in warm and humid Louisiana stumbles upon a gravely wounded Union soldier, John McBurney (Colin Farrell). Taken in to recover from his injuries, the Corporal is imprisoned in a small room inside the mansion, however, before long, the seductive and unwanted guest will manage to take advantage of the female inhabitants' wartime-subdued desires. At first McBurney is met with careful and caring attention by Miss Martha (Nicole Kidman), Edwina (Kirsten Dunst), Alicia (Elle Fanning), Amy (Oona Lawrence), Marie (Addison Riecke) and Emil (Emma Howard). But McBurney charms them as they nurse him back to health, and his lustful manipulations cause them to spiral into jealous and vengeful rages against him. Feeling trapped, John realizes that his benefactress cannot be trusted…with his love or with his life!
The musical scoring by Laura Karpman and Phoenix (with nods to Monteverdi’s ‘Magnificat’) greatly enhances the atmosphere. The story takes unexpected turns and ends rather surprisingly, but it all works well. Recommended. Grady Harp, October 17