Sofia Coppola: A Name of Her Own

The Beguiled

Sofia CoppolaUSA94 minutes201714AEnglish

Dec 17
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This second screen adaptation of Thomas Cullinan's A Painted Devil (following the 1971 version by Don Siegel and Clint Eastwood) earned Coppola the Best Director prize at Cannes, making her only the second woman to receive the honour. A feminist reframing of Cullinan's Civil War-era tale — about a wounded Union soldier (Colin Farrell) who is sheltered from his Confederate pursuers by the staff and students of a Southern girls' school, and proceeds to seduce and manipulate his rescuers — Coppola's Beguiled eloquently conveys the girlish fascination and mature feminine desire that Farrell's Cpl. McBurney elicits from this household of cloistered women (which include Nicole Kidman as the headmistress, Kirsten Dunst as a repressed teacher, and Elle Fanning as an anything-but-repressed young student). Despite his generous spirit, McBurney soon proves to be an opportunistic horndog, and his efforts to have more than one bird in hand leads to a grisly incident that unleashes a frenzy of threats, violence, and murder. Taking Coppola's recurring themes of enforced female isolation and insular, intrinsically limited worldviews to their extreme, The Beguiled is "told with surgical precision and savage grace" (Indiewire).