“The Beguiled.” – 6 ½
In a word: Slow.
This is the antithesis of an action film. Directed by Sofia Coppola, (daughter of Francis Ford Coppola) it is a remake of a 1971 movie of the same title, which starred Clint Eastwood.
Set in rural Virginia, 1864, as the Civil War blazed in the distance outside the frames of the camera, the entire setting for the story is in and around a mansion in the woods – nothing else — that has been converted into a girl’s school of some four students who are sheltered from the war. The property is owned by Martha, a stoic, discipline-minded woman deftly played by Nicole Kidman.
While alone in the woods collecting mushrooms, one of the young girls stumbles upon a wounded union soldier lying under a tree. Though this is a staunch Confederate region, the girl assists the soldier (Colin Farrell) to the mansion where Kidman takes charge and reluctantly treats the soldier’s wounds, with the objective of releasing him back to the field once he is ambulatory.
The soldier’s presence ultimately creates a wave of interesting relationships and curiosities among the four students, one adult teacher and Kidman, of which Farrell’s character makes the best of use. He stays longer than anticipated, to the delight of some.
The problem with the movie is the painful drag of boring scenes and dull dialogue. Half-way through the 90-plus minutes, one unexpected incident erupts (finally) which draws the viewer into another dimension, with revived interest in seeing how the new conflicts will be resolved and if the Union soldier will survive. But it’s not enough to give rise to a better rating.
This movie will be mostly enjoyed by a “mature” audience who appreciate deep stories that do not dazzle with speed, noise, blasting music, foul language, guns firing, exciting chases and explicit sex. Acting is good, thanks to Farrell and Kidman, who carry the weight of the film. But there will be no Oscar nominations here.
I give it a 6 ½ out of 10.