The Beguiled Screen 75 of 16 reviews

The Beguiled

2017

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  • Wisely, and refreshingly, Coppola allows us to decipher how we feel about these people with mood, style, stolen glances, and movement, often very slow – even open wounds are something to ponder as they’re sewn up and busted open (like bodices), as is the melodrama that is, in brief, stark moments, vociferous and at other times, quiet and gorgeously muted. It’s a brilliant fever dream in Coppola’s hands.

  • Coppola isn’t a minimalist, exactly, but as in “Lost in Translation” and “Somewhere,” she demonstrates an economy of form and plot that tends to get mistaken for insubstantiality. More directors could learn something from her eye for the spare, telling detail, as well as her seeming allergy to narrative bloat. In “The Beguiled,” she once again practices the fine art of narrative subtraction, this time in service of an understated yet purposeful feminist reading.

  • The film makes up for in atmosphere what it lacks in drama (though gothic developments and a wicked, dark humour take hold nearer the end). Slithers of sunlight illuminate an overgrown garden shot by Philippe Le Sourd in an impressionistic and languorous soft-focus... If Siegel’s 1971 film offers a battle of the sexes, Coppola’s 2017 update foregrounds a hard-won utopia. Together, they make for a entrancing and contrasting double-bill.

  • Coppola has made a modern feminist horror film about the dangers of not allowing your social conditioning to talk louder than your personal feelings. She grants her women enough agency to be aroused without being exclusively defined by their lust.

  • Sofia Coppola’s The Beguiled, playing at Cannes in competition, may be a remake of a 1971 Don Siegel revenge thriller starring Clint Eastwood, but it’s really its own hypnotic yet hardy species of flora, a daylily crossed with a twisted root vegetable. Its skin is pretty, but its heart is dark. Though it borrows some of the gauzy mood of The Virgin Suicides, it’s essentially unlike any other Sofia Coppola film, a serene, supple picture that hits more than a few notes of despair.

  • This is Coppola’s funniest film to date, and also her straightest historic film to date (Marie Antoinette’s colour scheme was pure pop). Still, it is very much a work by a maestro of heady melancholy. Beneath the exquisitely rendered visual and atmospheric gild is a passionate and brilliantly observed lament for female sexuality left to go to seed.

  • The first hour of The Beguiled is as slow and atmospheric as you'd expect from Coppola... Posed like tableaux vivants in artfully coordinated pale pastels, the assembled women more closely resemble a period-perfect Vogue cover than a besieged community on the losing side of a brutal war. There is cunning method, though, in the suffocating formality of the well-mannered civilities that pass at first between the ladies and their patient.

  • It isn’t Coppola’s strongest film, but it’s her smartest and most skillful in portraying how the dynamics of a group of women can warp and weft under outside pressure, turning from community to competition. Which is why it’s so aggravating that Coppola, who also wrote the script, chose to excise race from a story built on a foundation of slavery, as if leaning directly into criticisms of her work as an apologist for the advantages her white protagonists enjoy.

  • In some respects, this is the echt Sofia Coppola film: it stands or falls entirely on its atmospherics. As it happens, Coppola is on point, successfully turning the screen into a vaporous hotbox of swamp steam, dark shade under the Spanish moss, and of course drifting smoke from battlegrounds that are kept out of sight but are never psychologically absent.

  • Coppola’s a master at taking something that could be portentous and rendering it delicate, thereby reclaiming its depth... The character dynamics transfix — particularly the interplay between headmistress Miss Martha (Kidman) and teacher Edwina (Kirsten Dunst, excellent as always) — but I was most taken with the way Coppola uses style to create meaning.

  • As a standalone film, Coppola’s version abounds in pleasures: from the starry cast (at least four of whom almost coincidentally seem to be hitting their career-best strides at exactly the same moment) to Philippe Le Sourd‘s cinematography, all misty woods, dangling creepers and softly sparkling candlelit interiors. But as a comparison to Siegel’s more problematic, yet also more full-throated, luridly bonkers take on Thomas Cullinan’s novel, it feels strangely unkinked and scrubbed clean.

  • It serves as proof that what goes for naturalism in Sofia Coppola's dominion still verges on being decorative to the point of self-parody.

  • For some, the sexual hysteria in Siegel’s movie is ugly, an unrepentant expression of woman-terror. But I’ve always been fascinated by the sheer excess of ’71’s Beguiled, in the ways that its surfeit of lust and scheming somehow lays bare — and, in a perverse way, honors — the fury of the Farnsworth females. Coppola’s Beguiled, like nearly every film she’s made, teems with rich, period-exact surfaces. McBurney may suffer grievous bodily harm, but Coppola’s movie never breaks the skin.

  • From an aesthetic and technical perspective, her achievement is laudable, but there’s something underfurnished about this movie, a lack of historical, intellectual, and thematic richness. For all its elaborate design and carefully calibrated mood, it comes down to the tale of a randy fox in an impeccably preserved Greek Revival henhouse.

  • It's always exciting when filmmakers push themselves and make films squarely outside their comfort zones, which could be said of Sofia Coppola who returns to Cannes this year with The Beguiled... The film marks new territory for Coppola. But while her vision is predictably sharp in the way that it tackles the material’s sexual politics, the film also feels flattened, stripped of its lurid, psychosexual appeal. Even more than “limited,” it feels safe.

  • Coppola's signature woozy sensuality, coupled with her efforts at comparative subtlety/respectability—McBurney is no longer a sociopath who passionately kisses a 12-year-old girl in the film's very first scene, repeatedly lies about his conduct in battle, and eventually declares his intention of raping everybody in the school—creates a hothouse atmosphere that plays even more misogynistic than did the original, which at least has a sense of humor about McBurney's erotic power.

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