A finely crafted, gemlike exercise in surface tension and subterranean stirrings.
Ann Hornaday, Washington Post
Sofia Coppola is a virtuoso of image and sound.
Peter Travers, Rolling Stone
The performances are engrossing, particularly Kidman's: She disappears into the distant primness of Ms. Farnsworth. The costumes are exquisite and the Southern setting atmospheric and beautiful.
Sandy Cohen, Associated Press
Synopsis:Sofia Coppola’s The Beguiled is a gothic dram, set during the U.S. Civil War, about a wounded Union soldier who’s taken in by the headmistress and students of a secluded, all-female Virginia seminary. Based on Thomas Cullinan’s novel and previously filmed in 1971 by Don Siegel with Clint Eastwood and Geraldine Page, it’s a tale of repressed desires and sexual power dynamics.
Coppola’s a master at taking something that could be portentous and rendering it delicate, thereby reclaiming its depth. The emotions in The Beguiled are simple and understated, and you feel more for the characters as a result. As Corporal John McBurney (Colin Farrell) is nursed back to health, he starts to toy with the women and young girls of the seminary, in an effort to get them to let him stay. But it’s not as if they need much extra encouragement: They’re donning their nicest clothes and jewelry not long after he arrives. And everyone’s aware of it, too.
The character dynamics transfix – particularly the interplay between headmistress Miss Martha (Nicole Kidman) and teacher Edwina (Kirsten Dunst, excellent as always) – but I was most taken with the way Coppola uses style to create meaning. In the first half, we hear but almost never see bombs in the distance, a regular reminder of the battlefield’s proximity. As the story becomes darker and more violent, Coppola often cuts to exterior shots of the seminary, and we hear the shouting and stomping come from inside the building – as if the war has finally infiltrated the grounds and these girls’ reality.
But this isn’t an artificial, outside violence that has entered this sheltered idyll. The cruelties, jealousies, and manipulations of The Beguiled are natural and come from within. And the haunting series of shots that end the film suggests that what’s emerged will never go away.
– Bilge Ebiri, The Village Voice
Directed by Sofia Coppola
Starring Nicole Kidman, Kirsten Dunst, Elle Fanning, and Colin Farrell
Nicole Kidman, Kirsten Dunst, Elle Fanning, Colin Farrell
14A - Sexual Content, Violence