The Beguiled Movie Review
The Beguiled is why average moviegoers question movie critics. The “certifiably fresh” drama-thriller from Sofia Coppola—a remake of a Clint Eastwood movie—is well made, interesting and peculiar, but it’s a film that devotes much of its time to setting up nuanced dynamics between many of the characters only to scrap them entirely in the third act. And deliver a mildly disturbing but not disturbing enough climax. As it abruptly ends, the woman sitting in front of me declared, “Well, that was horrible.”
Coppola’s remake isn’t horrible. Far from it. But it’s disappointingly unfulfilling, a movie that relies more on the journey than the destination. Many critics seem to love that shit—reveling in the little details along the way, satisfied when a movie decides to remain reserved rather than let things hit the proverbial fan. There are plenty of little details to enjoy—a scene in which the various women and girls that color Coppola’s tale (Nicole Kidman, Kirsten Dunst, Elle Fanning, Oona Laurence, Angourie Rice) dress to impress Colin Farrell will leave you giggling, for one—but the details don’t amount to much.
The Beguiled pivots at the beginning of the third act, an expected turn to some degree but one that comes more abruptly than the film’s slow-boil pacing would suggest. The problem is that Coppola spends an hour setting up intrigue and suggestion through little looks and sweet whispers from Farrell, then in the span of one minute she wipes everything that was interesting from the film away. Suddenly, every little detail that suggested the girls and women would be willing to turn on one another no longer matters—save for one strand involving one of the female characters. But even then, the film finishes without doing much with her, either, making you wonder what the hell the point was in the first place?
It’s a shame, because Coppola has made a beautiful looking picture with a beautifully talented cast. Farrell is at his best, while Kidman, Dunst and the rest of the cast clearly had fun with their respective characters and nail their respective roles. Every scene sizzles with restrained emotion and energy, which makes it all the more frustrating that Coppola is unable to bring it all together in the end.
The Beguiled has the elements to be great, which is why it’s ultimately such a disappointment. And yet some rave reviews from critics will send unknowing audiences to the multiplexes, audiences who will most likely leave unfulfilled or worse.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.