This content comes to you courtesy of a exclusive press screening and interview opportunity with Focus Features. All opinions expressed are 100% my own. The Beguiled is rated R.
I first fell in love with Southern Gothic style literature in high school. I continued with my love of this style of literature, followed by movies as I finished college. It may have something to do with my Southern roots. It may have something to do with the darkness and light both that occur throughout the story. It is subtle, complicated yet simple and sneaks right up on you. For all those reasons and many more I admit to being very intrigued when I was invited to attend a special press screening of The Beguiled. Our screening included a special interview opportunity with Director Sofia Coppola, and two of the stars from the movie Elle Fanning and Kirsten Dunst.
About The Beguiled
At a girls’ school in Virginia during the Civil War, where the young women have been sheltered from the outside world, a wounded Union soldier is taken in. Soon, the house is taken over with sexual tension, rivalries, and an unexpected turn of events.
Based on the 1966 book by Thomas Cullinan, The Beguiled was made into a film twice: in 1971, starring Clint Eastwood and Geraldine Page, and in 2017, directed by Sofia Coppola and starring Nicole Kidman, Colin Farrell, Kirsten Dunst, and Elle Fanning. I admit to watching (in horror) the 1971 movie with Clint Eastwood and Geraldine Page. I do not recommend watching it late at night. But enough about the old, and in with the new version, Directed by Award Winning Director Sofia Coppola.
The Beguiled Movie Characters
Nicole Kidman is magnificent as Miss Martha, (Martha Farnsworth) the head mistress of the all girls school. The girls have been left there hoping for safety from the invading Yankee army and are expected to complete their studies in decorum, etiquette, and other “lady like pursuits” successfully and in a genteel and Christian manner.
Kirsten Dunst shows not one of her famous dimples, as she takes on the role of Edwina Dabney the school teacher and assistant Miss Martha. Repressed yet strong, she wants more than anything in the world to “leave this place.”
Addison Riecke (Marie) was adorable and very much the imp we have come to know and love in Nickelodeon series ‘The Thundermans.”
Elle Fanning isn’t the Sleeping Beauty you may remember from “Maleficent” but a sultry siren, who maybe a Yankee solider can’t resist.
And Colin Farrell … well it was Colin Farrell. Add the fact that he has an Irish accent and that’s pretty much all I need to say.
The Beguiled Movie Review
What would you do if you found a wounded soldier in your woods? Would you do the “Christian” thing and bring him back to the house to help him get healthy enough to be turned into the Confederate army without his subsequent guilt on your conscience? Well maybe you would if it was Colin Farrell (John McBurney) at the gate.
The Beguiled is told from the point of view of the women of the house. Having been left alone with not much more than a pistol to protect them they do occasionally rely on the kindness of the passing army, while making sure that Southern gentlemen in the Confederacy are not too tempted by either the girls in the school or the cow in the field or the fruits and vegetables in the garden. Things which have already been stolen so while they may be friendly with the army, they aren’t friends with them.
McBurney arrives with serious injuries from battle. Miss Martha takes over his care, making sure he knows that they (the girls) are not there to “entertain” him. Look for more double entrendres throughout the movie. The young girls are fascinated by having a man in the house and the older women vie for his affections. He appears to only have eyes for one, Edwina. Well maybe it’s just his heart that is attached to Edwina. His eyes and a few other parts of his body he seems all too willing to share. Unfortunately someone decides to give herself to him the exact same night he actually is being entertained by another.
There’s some he said she said about exactly how willing his entertainment is . . . as she tries to cover up more than what really happened. As we have all heard “Hell has no fury like a woman scorned,” and while not exactly scorned Edwina is not in the mood to hear his excuses. Accidents happen right?
And that’s all I’ll say about the story. Because you really just need to see it to truly experience it. I saw it at 9 AM in the morning on a Sunday. After traveling for several days – and I was speechless as I watched each and every minute even that early in the morning.
The settings were magnificent and reminded me of much of the South I experienced as a child with dirt roads, weeping willows, and wild roses. Though the setting is in 1864 Virginia filming took place in New Orleans and outside the city at a plantation home bringing to the screen the beauty of the south’s natural settings. It’s deep with undertones and exciting as you wait to see exactly which way the characters will choose to turn. Could this have been a happy ending, romantic story? Sure, but we already have plenty of that to watch this summer.
What exactly is so fascinating about The Beguiled? Kirsten Dunst probably described it best, “The violence of the human heart is a timeless theme, no matter what period a story takes place in.”