Saturday, July 1, 2017

The Beguiled

My friend and I went to a screening of The Beguiled on Friday night and, while she only liked it, I absolutely loved it!  The Beguiled is set on a large and isolated plantation in Virginia which is used as a Ladies Seminary run by Miss Martha Farnsworth (Nicole Kidman) at the end of the Civil War.  When one of the girls comes upon a severely wounded Union soldier named John McBurney (Colin Farrell), they decide to shelter him while he recuperates.  He disrupts their quiet and well-ordered life and all of them, even the young girls, begin vying for his affection by wearing their best dresses and jewelry and sneaking into the music room to speak with him.  I particularly loved a scene where all of them try to take credit for an apple pie that John praises.  John takes advantage of the situation by flirting with the no-nonsense headmistress Martha, a repressed teacher named Edwina (Kirsten Dunst), and a bored and sullen student named Alicia (Elle Fanning) with the hopes of being allowed to stay on the plantation but this eventually sets them against each other with catastrophic results for him.  There were many times when I wondered who was beguiling whom!  The tension builds very, very slowly and I almost couldn't bear waiting for the resolution (my friend had seen the 1971 original but I hadn't so I think that contributed to my reaction) which just about blew my mind with its subtlety.  All of the actresses give marvelous performances as genteel Southern belles who come undone.  Of course Nicole Kidman is brilliant but I was especially impressed by Kirsten Dunst's portrayal of Edwina's sadness and insecurity and I thought Addison Riecke was adorable as one of the younger girls (especially when she suggests looking for mushrooms).  Finally, this film is beautifully shot with lots of atmospheric scenes of moss-covered trees outside and flickering candles inside.  I highly recommend The Beguiled for it's tension, incredible acting, and gorgeous cinematography.

1 comment:

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