The Beguiled (2017)

It’s a shame, isn’t it? That I couldn’t have remained helpless…

Be careful for what you wish for, Coporal.

I’m gonna guess that Gillian Flynn and fans of Gillian Flynn are gonna really love this movie. The Beguiled was such a beautiful nightmare, the macabre fairy tale I never knew I needed. I believe there are many ways to empower women, and I find novels or movies – that portray very realistic female villains who are so cunning and vicious – to be equally as empowering as powerful heroines.

*On a side note, I’m actually grateful to my parents for not throwing me into a girls’ school, girls are so scary and I never know when they truly mean what they say. Hence, this movie literally was a nightmare for me. I’ve still got goosebumps from watching this yesterday.

Right from the opening scene, I was sucked in. The smoke from distant gunfire drifting into the woods, filling the scene with an air of tension and mystery, with rays of sunlight piercing through, illuminating the back of a young girl who is humming to the tune of a war song whilst searching for mushrooms.

Screenshot (272)

How beautiful is that?

Every scene in The Beguiled was so beautifully shot. The choice of colours, light and shadows matched the themes of the film really well. And despite there being a lack of background music, Sofia Coppola still effectively creates and sustains tension throughout the film. I don’t remember there being any non-diegetic music in the film, unless I’m mistaken (which I doubt). Anyway, I think there might be some people, who are too used to exciting sequences paired with hair-raising soundtracks, who might get bored mid-way when it seems like the film isn’t doing much to keep your attention at every second. I definitely agree with Coppola’s choice of only using the sounds of distant cannon fire, and of birds and crickets to fill the scene, because it made me feel like I was there in the house, isolated from the rest of the world.

Screenshot (275)

Well, he’s not going to be here long enough for his name to make a difference to us.

With regards to the character performances, except for one of the young girls, I felt that every single one of the characters was unique and mysterious. Each one of them had their own personality and their own role to play in the film’s narrative. We see how our first impression of these characters don’t seem to match with our opinions of them by the end of the film. And because Coppola didn’t use any voice overs, we never really enter the minds of these characters, making their interactions more complex, and definitely possible to be studied in depth (if you ever felt like turning this into a film study). Right up to the end, you honestly can’t be sure which characters were actually bad, or whether they were forced to act against their values due to unwilling circumstances – and though this might be unsettling to many, I found it very fascinating.

So because of the film’s focus on the development of these characters (as they progress into stranger and darker circumstances throughout the film), as well as the lack of non-diegetic music and lack of information about the characters’ intentions… I’m going to proudly add this to my Art Cinema collection. Hooray for another beautiful work of art by Coppola! And boo to everyone else who thinks this film isn’t about anything at all!

I haven’t seen all of Coppola’s films, only Lost in Translation and Marie Antoinette. And neither have I seen Don Siegel’s version of The Beguiled. BUT I will confidently say, as a fan of all things beautiful, dark and intriguing, that I thoroughly enjoyed watching Coppola’s version of The Beguiled, and I absolutely loved the performances of Colin Farrell, Nicole Kidman and Elle Fanning. I really hope they win something next year.

Just a word of caution before I end: DON’T WATCH THE TRAILER. It gives everything away, and I don’t know whose bright idea it was to allow that to be released.