Dir: Sofia Coppola (15, 94 mins)
Sofia Coppola’s assured remake of the 1971 Don Siegel directed original starring Clint Eastwood has already won her plaudits at the Cannes Film Festival. Set during the American Civil War, Colin Farrell’s wounded Union soldier McBurney shows up in enemy territory, a girl’s seminary school in the South where sexual tensions soon simmer and boil over with violent results. The school is run by headmistress Martha (Nicole Kidman) and Edwina (Kirsten Dunst) and on discovering their wounded soldier they decide to do the Christian thing and help the enemy. Kidman does not hand him over to the Confederacy, as all are beguiled by this solitary male presence amidst their femininity, particularly the apparently precocious Alicia (Elle Fanning). However, when Farrell transgresses with one of the women in his midst, a violent outcome is assured. The cast are top notch in this seething melodrama, Farrell is equally as beguiled by his carers as they by him. There is a strong feminist re-imagining of the original film and Thomas P Cullinan’s original novel with Coppola handling the shifts from awkward hilarity to vengeance with skill. Played to the hilt in a dreamy Southern landscape, The Beguiled is very beguiling.
Opens July 14