Mike Torchic’s review published on Letterboxd:
Sofia Coppola is a filmmaker who’s work intrigues me a lot. Granted I’ve only seen Lost In Translation, but I hope to see some more of her earlier films soon.
The Beguiled has a lot going for it. An interesting premise and a stellar cast are just a few of them. For the most part, The Beguiled is a great film, with only a few minor problems.
The film revolves around a soldier in the Civil War who, when wounded, is escorted to an all girls school in Virginia. The students and staff are a bit apprehensive at first, but grow on the soldier, accepting him more as the film goes on. However, an event occurs near the end of the film that basically turns everything on its head. The film is a really slow burn, with around an hour devoted to character development and developing the relationships between the characters and the soldier. This is only a 90 minute film though, so there’s really only 30 minutes devoted to the climax and the resolution of the film. Some scenes feel too long and some too short. I felt like there were a lot of excess scenes in the beginning, but not enough in the end. Other than that, however, the plot was great. Coppola really tries to build these relationships well so that when the big climax happens, it’s all the more suspenseful. I also felt that there was a sense of anxiousness and unease throughout the entire film, something that contributed to the main plot in a big way. It was a well written film overall, with Coppola capturing the time period and creating these characters perfectly. Sure there were some general pacing issues, but other than that it was great.
The cast did a great job with their performances, with nearly everyone giving their a-game. I obviously expected great performances out of people like Nicole Kidman, Colin Farrell, Kirsten Dunst and Elle Fanning, and they all delivered. However, the ones that surprised me were the performances by the kids. For a very mature film, they all gave great performances. One that stood out was Oona Lawrence as Amy, the girl that initially discovers the soldier. Again, she did a really great job, delivering in some really emotional scenes as well as some more intense ones. Angourie Rice, who was incredible in The Nice Guys, also gives a great performance. I really do feel like these young girls will go on to have big and bright careers because they’re all promising young actresses who act really well.
One of my favorite things about this film was the cinematography. Philippe Le Sourd makes every shot look straight out of a painting. From the opening alone I knew that this film would have a distinct and unique style to it, and I wasn’t wrong. The look and feel of 1800’s South was captured perfectly, with nearly every shot looking fantastic. It also helps to convey that sense of unease, whether it be how a scene was framed or how it was lit.
While it does have some minor problems, The Beguiled is a really great film overall. Everything from the plot to the performances and the cinematography helped to deliver this great story to the screen, and it succeeded.
I definitely recommend that you check out The Beguiled. It’s a film that starts kinda slow and takes a while to build, but the ending is worth it. Hopefully I’ll be able to check out some more of Sofia Coppola’s films soon.