Once upon a time, a charming serpent showed Adam and Eve what temptation was like.
How it rots your innocence and can lead to sin…
The Beguiled is what happens when you let a seemingly harmless snake into your world and what happens when you allow that snake to start charming you…
Sofia Coppola’s bravura slow burn is not only her best film, but it’s the first time I’ve felt her story and characters were able to breathe and flourish.
Usually her films are stylistically orgasmic endeavors of lonely people that find meaning or pleasure in depravity or in some sort of thrill they shouldn’t be having.
Loneliness or the feeling of isolation is on full display here, but there’s something so human and liberating about the way Coppola tells this story.
This story has been told before in Don Siegel’s 1971 original, which was told through the male gaze.
It’s incredibly hot blooded and features Clint Eastwood in a charismatically and “man-ly” performance that indulges in his snakelike charm and has the women turn hysterical once they find out they’ve been conned.
Sofia Coppola shows you this story how it needed to be told, through the female’s gaze.
Not once did I feel like I was watching a man’s idea of how these women should act or how they should talk.
The slightest infliction or flaw felt real instead of staged or there merely for hollow stylistic reasons.
Coppola wrote and directed these women in a way that felt personal. Not in the way that these characters were based on her, but it felt like if any of these characters came off fake, she would’ve gone back to square one to fix that mistake.
Here, we have GOOD people that are in this self induced bubble during the Civil War, that have their “simple” world turned upside down by a wounded soldier.
What instantly struck me about this film was the “Adam and Eve parallel.”
How a snake entered a world full of Eves and started to tempt them almost immediately.
It’s a blatantly obvious parallel, but Coppola infuses almost each character with sympathy and has the best cast of the year.
Nicole Kidman is the steady and commanding hand that steers this film wonderfully (just like Coppola herself did behind the camera).
Colin Farrell is having a blast and the whole time, besides trying to resist his charms, I was in disbelief that this was the same guy from THE LOBSTER.
Kirsten Dunst is also quietly lovely here, playing a surprisingly challenging character (wait until you start questioning one of her decisions in the third act) and everyone else, especially Ooona Lawerence, does a great job in the other roles.
Without that sure hand on casting and character, The Beguiled would’ve came off exploitative or worse, boring.
Also, I absolutely LOVED how stripped back this film was.
The heart achingly gorgeous cinematography from Philippe Le Sourd is the best of the year.
For the first time in a long time, I felt that each shot MEANT something, instead of having some shots thrown in because “They looked cool.”
What really threw me for a loop at first was the score, or lack there off of one.
The film uses the sounds of the south to guide you through this tale and it isn’t until the very end that you hear the score taking over.
It’s the first time in a long time that I wish a film had no musical score at all.
It really is something to behold how gorgeous and stripped back this movie is, especially compared to the bloated excess of today’s blockbusters.
My best suggestion is to avoid every trailer this movie has offered you, because they are misleading and an insult to the final product.
This is a slow burn piece of Southern Gothic and it’s best enjoyed with friends and a steady patience.
★★★★ ½ Sofia Coppola crafts her best film yet in a film that not only is beautifully made, but incredibly entertaining and rich with meaning.
images via Focus Features