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Levy Must-Sees: The Beguiled

Dana Levy (11/07/2017)

A wounded soldier arrives at a boarding school in Virginia during the Civil War, resulting in secret relationships and sexual tension among the women at the school

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Dana Levy is a British-Israeli film critic based in London.

‘The Beguiled’ is the latest release from writer and director Sofia Coppola (Lost in Translation, The Bling Ring. It is adapted from the novel of the same name by Thomas Cullinan, but told from a female perspective.

Set during the American Civil War in 1864, the story takes place in Virginia at a Southern girl’s boarding school run by a Miss Martha (Nicole Kidman, also star of ‘The Hours’ and ‘Lion’). She is in charge of looking after five young ladies, including Alicia (Elle Fanning, ‘Maleficent’ and ‘Live by Night’) and Amy (Oona Laurence, ‘Southpaw’ and ‘Bad Moms’). Miss Martha’s assistant Edwina (Kirsten Dunst, of ‘Marie Antoinette’, ‘Spider Man’) also teaches the young ladies at the school.

One day Amy is picking mushrooms in the nearby forest and discovers Corporal McBurney (Colin Farrell, ‘Total Recall’ & ‘In Bruges’), a badly wounded US soldier in the undergrowth. Feeling it was her Christian duty to help, Amy takes him back to the boarding school. At first Miss Martha and the girls are outraged that he has arrived but, feeling guilty for not showing compassion, they provide shelter and tend to his wounds on the condition that he leaves as soon as he is well.

As the days go by Corporal McBurney develops secret relationships with Miss Martha, Alicia and Edwina and the sexual tension between them grows. The ladies turn against each other as they vie for his attention- until an unexpected and thrilling turn of events changes everything.

‘The Beguiled’ is a beautiful, entertaining and somewhat shocking piece of motion picture art, exploring human behaviour when a person is betrayed and provoked. If you are a fan of Sophia Coppola’s films since her breakout film ‘The Virgin Suicides’, you will really enjoy and appreciate her latest work. The rapport between all the female characters is strong and convincing, and Kirsten Dunst’s role seems to have been made for her. Colin Farrell is a clever choice as well- as one can’t help but associate his real past and reputation as a ladies’ man with his character, adding to the frisson in several scenes.

This film captures that same ethereal visual quality as ‘The Virgin Suicides’, with Coppola’s now trademark dreamlike hazy and romantic sunlight effects coupled with the beautiful feminine and innocent ladies in their pure white dresses decorated with lace and ribbons. It all adds to the drama of the story as it unfolds into a nightmare. I wasn’t expecting it to be funny but there are some very amusing moments that made me giggle.

MOVIE TITLE: The Beguiled
CAST: Nicole Kidman, Colin Farrell, Kirsten Dunst, Elle Fanning, Oona Laurence
DIRECTOR: Sofia Coppola
DISTRIBUTOR: Focus Features (Universal)
UK RELEASE DATE: 14th July 2017
ISRAEL RELEASE DATE: 14th July 2017 (Jerusalem Film Festival)
IMAGES COPYRIGHT: Focus Features (Universal)


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