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Sophia Coppola is back with a feminist period piece and not a rock song is in sight.
The Beguiled takes place during the American Civil War and follows a school of soon-to-be southern ladies as they take in a Union soldier, injured in a battle. As they nurse him back to health, things get a bit complicated.
Ms Coppola is a mixed bag auteur for me. She has a whiff of Tarkovsky about her, but without the spiritual chutzpah. I loved Lost In Translation, but had real mixed emotions about Marie Antoinette. One can certainly no longer pull out the nepotism argument. Her style is unique and quite interesting even if it does have its issues. My hope is that this movie can swing me into being a full-on fan.
This film slowly burns through the tension like any one of the many candles in the house that acts as setting to its series of events.
We end up not fully liking either this soldier or the women and girls attending him. As soon their appears to be a Jane Austen style romanticism to this tale, the rug is pulled from under us and we are treated to something much more frightening.
The Beguiled’s position in the Civil War is gorgeously realised by having the guns fire just out of frame. Just like in war, we patiently await the inevitable and just like in war, that wait might be a bit much for some.
This is easily Coppola’s most accessible film I’ve seen so far. And don’t worry, it’s a pretty good’un.
Recommended Scenario: If you want beautiful costumes and deadly suspense.