‘The Beguiled’ Review Roundup: Sofia Coppola Puts Colorful Stamp On Clint Eastwood Classic
The Beguiled, the latest film from director Sofia Coppola, tells the story of a Union soldier wounded stranded in a house of women – most of them only girls – in Virginia during the Civil War. He quickly becomes romantically involved with several of them and they just as quickly join together to exact revenge.
The film stars Nicole Kidman, Kirsten Dunst, Elle Fanning, and Colin Farrell.
A remake of 1971 film of the same name staring Clint Eastwood, critics seem to agree that Coppola, who won the Best Director award at Cannes Film Festival this year, has updated the story by utilizing a much more focused and complex female perspective.
THE BEGUILED REVIEW ROUNDUP
“Coppola … is at the top of her game here, crafting a vibrant melodrama that both plays to her strengths and brings new colors to her cinematic palette. The filmmaker and her gifted cinematographer Phillippe Le Sourd (The Grandmaster) create a sultry atmosphere of lacy beauty curdled by blood lust and the sound of battle off in the distance. But, oh, the war inside. Kidman and Farrell engage in a mesmerizing duel of wits. But it’s Dunst, in a performance of aching beauty and restraint, who finds the film’s bruised heart. Coppola is a virtuoso of image and sound. but don’t mistake her delicate touch for weakness. The Beguiled is a hothouse flower of startling power and intimacy. You can’t shake it.” – Peter Travers, Rolling Stone
“[Coppola’s] “Beguiled” is less a hothouse flower than a bonsai garden, a work of cool, exquisite artifice that evokes wildness on a small, controlled scale. I have called the film a fairy tale but you could also describe it as a horror movie, a quasi-western and a revenge melodrama, perhaps too many things at once. Most effectively, though — and largely thanks to Ms. Kidman’s regal, witty performance — it’s a comedy, a country-house farce about the problems caused by an inconvenient guest.” – A.O. Scott, New York Times
“Though Coppola’s Beguiled stays close to the story of the 1971 film, and Farrell nicely channels Eastwood’s roguish charm, the two are otherwise a study in how different filmmakers can turn the same story into drastically different films. Where Siegel reveled in the luridness of the material and told the story through John’s eyes with an abundance of early ‘70s stylistic flourishes (including a rich Lalo Schifrin score), Coppola brings a studied, eerie quietness. Her Beguiled is a film of careful compositions and deep shadows. Shot on film with many scenes seemingly illuminated solely by candlelight, it’s at once beautiful and unsettling, as if Coppola wanted to mix the atmosphere of The Shining with the lushness of Barry Lyndon.” – Keith Phipps, UPROXX
“It would have been more fun if Coppola had been a little beguiled herself, and given into the tale’s passions. Just when you want the director to go all out, she holds back — a little like these oh-so-proper women. But don’t underestimate her, or them. They all still have a few surprises hidden inside those silky sleeves. And their captive is about to discover the bedroom can be the most dangerous battlefield of all.” – Stephen Whitty, New York Daily News