In a world that thrives off big budget action, Sofia Coppola’s latest movie The Beguiled is a refreshing reminder that a good story is not necessarily the most action packed. Set during the American Civil war in 1864 Virginia, the film tells the story of several women who live away from their families, homes and friends at a school for young ladies. One day one of them discovers an injured enemy soldier (Colin Farrell), which results in the ladies facing a great moral dilemma. They can save him and do the good Christian thing or let him be taken as a prisoner and eventually die. Whilst on paper the plot may sound dry, the story really is an interesting case study that raises many different questions about morality, humanity and feminism. The overarching question of ‘Who should I trust and why should I trust them?’ is the guiding compass to the film’s thesis.
If you aren’t a fan of Coppola’s other work, such as Lost In Translation or The Virgin Suicides, it might be better to give this one a miss. The film is saturated with her direction and it is evident throughout that you are watching a Sofia Coppola movie. However, if you choose to miss this one you’ll be missing out on a fascinating storyline and fearless film by a prominent female director. Coppola’s direction is gutsy and brave but simultaneously light and feminine. Her slow-paced style and focus on story and characters allows the story to simmer so that it particularly shines in its strongest moments.
The cast was phenomenal and perhaps a brave choice for a film that is so heavily based in the South with many intense scenes that involve young characters. Two out of the eight main cast members (Angourie Rice, Nicole Kidman) were Australian, which was noticeable at times (particularly to a fellow Australian). However, it did not overly distract from their exceptional performances and it was nice to see Australian talent in such a gutsy story. Additionally, the younger cast had perfect comedic timing and were not cringe-worthy in the slightest. They handled the nature of the content with dignity and the fact that young people were playing young characters was particularly appreciated.
The most distracting part of the film was the seemingly dark colour grading. It is unclear if this was a fault of the film or the cinema it was viewed in but it felt like watching a movie on the lowest brightness setting. It was difficult to see the cast’s amazing performances and the beautiful cinematography. However, despite this, the film was incredibly enjoyable and their performances and overall production still shone through the darkness.
If you’re not a Sofia Coppola fan, do not be afraid to give this movie a try. Her pacing and style is truly unique to her, which is refreshing throughout this blockbuster season. The slower pace of her films can take some getting used to, however, once you do get used to them, you will be rewarded with well written stories and dimensional characters. She never fails to make an interesting movie, which is well and truly evident with The Beguiled.
Review by Jackie Jeanette
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