Plot: As the Civil War burns on, a rural school for girls continues to operate, but those inside are isolated from the world and for the most part, cut off from normal social contacts and interactions. As one of the students walks in the woods to find mushrooms, she happens upon a wounded soldier, Corporal McBurney (Colin Farrell). While he is a union soldier and the school is under the watch of the confederates, the women take him in and tend to his wound. A discussion is held as to when to turn him over, but it is agreed that he should recuperate first, though this decision is fueled by loneliness more than compassion. As time passes, the women find connections with McBurney in various ways, some romantic, others companionship, while he enjoys being the center of the world, at least to these women. But buried tensions lurk beneath the surface, as some of the older women desire him and isolation has made them pine for affection, despite their prim and proper facades. How will his presence impact the women and how will things go once he is recovered and able to leave?
Entertainment Value: This movie shares the same source novel as the Clint Eastwood film of the same name, but The Beguiled is no remake and instead, offers a different take on the book’s narrative. Sofia Coppola brings an almost ethereal, very feminine texture to the story here, a masterful drama told by candlelight that illuminates interesting, grounded characters. The women are shown as vulnerable, but not weak and while the desire, loneliness, and isolation have taken a toll on some of them, they’re not dialed to melodramatic levels. I appreciated how McBurney’s presence impacts each woman, but in different ways and how they react to that impact is quite interesting, especially once he is recovered. I love the atmosphere, bathed in candlelight and so natural, it creates a beautiful visual dynamic as well. The cast here is excellent, with Nicole Kidman, Elle Fanning, and Kirsten Dunst all in prominent, well performed roles, while Colin Farrell plays our injured soldier. I found Dunst’s work to be the most memorable, as she reveals so little about herself, but there’s a special aura about her and I just really loved her work in this role. The Beguiled is a well crafted drama with haunting visuals, great performances, and a memorable narrative. I really appreciated this one and as such, highly recommend the movie.
No nakedness. A lot of sexual tension and even a couple of sex scenes, but no naked flesh is depicted. But for those who appreciate a good sponge bath scene, Kidman works the sponge like a pro here. McBurney’s wound is shown in detail and looks quite gross, while later scenes show the wound re-opening and some amateur surgery also happens, though it goes down off screen. But no real violence aside from a tumble down the stairs, so the lack of bloodshed makes sense. This is a well written movie with some dynamic, interesting characters, but the tone is serious and by turn, doesn’t provide much in wild or quotable lines. But I did appreciate all the proper lady etiquette and Farrell’s temper tantrum late in the movie, so there’s some fun stuff here. As for craziness, this one plays it straight and never cracks open the weird or wackiness.
Overall Insanity: 0/10