Sofia Coppola is a goddess. When LOST IN TRANSLATION entered my orbit I fell head over heels for her style and elegant approach to filmmaking. I haven’t actually seen Marie Antoinette (shame on me!) and have enjoyed her other films but none of them came close to the marvel that was LIT. THE BEGUILED is a more sinister movie for her, it’s a thriller and a somewhat dark comedic chiller to be more precise and I was honoured to see it at a screening with a satellite feed QnA with the goddess herself. THE BEGUILED is out today Thursday 13th in Australia from Universal Pictures Australia. It is rated M and runs for 93mins.


The Beguiled Nicole Kidman and Colin Farrell image
Nicole Kidman and Colin Farrell




Cpl. John McBurney (Farrell) is an injured Union soldier who finds himself on the run as a deserter during the Civil War. He seeks refuge at an all-female Southern boarding school where the teachers and students seem more than willing to help. Soon, sexual tensions lead to dangerous rivalries as the women tend to his wounded leg while offering him comfort and companionship. The females compete for this not-so-helpless or innocent man. Soon things escalate to a twisted climax. It’s realistic and creepy AF!


The Beguiled Dinner at the Table image



Coppola can do no wrong, raised in the Coppola household would be a filmmaking baptism and Sofia has learned from the best. She doesn’t make movies, she makes nuanced works of art in the film medium. In THE BEGUILED she states she is not making a remake of the 1971 movie starring a much younger Clint Eastwood but is making her own interpretation of the 1966 novel from Thomas Cullinan. It is filmed closer to the time in a 1.66:1 ratio that doesn’t fill the screen. Coppola wanted to make a claustrophobic feeling to the pending entrapment that takes place. Every frame of this movie is stunning and feels isolated and old.

Both versions of the story were filmed in Louisiana however this version was set in Virginia with the 1971 version set in Mississippi – there was some location factual griping as the property is covered in Spanish Moss (Old Man’s Beard) – apparently this doesn’t grow in Virginia. Who cares really – it’s a fictional story not a documentary and it definitely adds to the film’s atmosphere. 

The movie has limited music and the tension in the film is thick and spotted with cannon fire in the distant background. It let’s you know they aren’t that far from the war.

There is one major thing that let the film down for me and it’s the climax, when it happened I felt cheated. I wanted more MISERY and ended up a little miserable at the dissatisfaction of it all. But that being said it was genuinely more realistic than MISERY.


The Beguiled Kirsten Dunst and Colin Farrell image
Kirsten Dunst and Colin Farrell




This movie wins because of the cast. Every single cast member is flawless and important. It is one of Kidman’s greatest performances and she does it with ease. Mildly peppered with dark humour her propriety and grace sweep forward just before her desires and strained and darkening soul. When I think back on it these women must have all been terrified. The possibility of being ransacked by the enemy and raped would have been on the front of their minds. They would have been friendly for their benefit but in pure survival instinct, and survival in war can lead to people doing things they wouldn’t normally consider.

This is Colin Farrell’s favourite movie he has worked on, citing the professionalism and the kindness of all the women onset. Farell’s performance as John McBurney was well done but the character itself was all over the shop. Was he the injured soldier seeking help or was he a monster who in a different situation would have destroyed them all. Again this leads to the crux of the plot – what will we do to survive.

One minute McBurney is flirting and seducing each of the women and delightful to the younger girls and the next minute he is throwing a turtle across the room and screaming rage. I didn’t trust him in the slightest but at the same time I pitied his circumstance, especially towards the end haha. His mind wasn’t quite right and on what I saw it looked more like what initially happened needed to happen for him to survive.


Coppola’s go-to girl Dunst nails her performance as Edwina, hers was the most interesting character of the story. The one I empathised with the most. A woman desperate for love and hurt by circumstance. My heart broke for her. Elle Fanning’s character Carol was a bitch, couldn’t stand her. She was that younger beautiful girl who could win any man with her flirtations and she knew it. For that I praise Fanning – she delivered as usual.

Finally special mention to thirteen year old Addison Riecke, her character Marie was a dark little piece of unknowing evil. She delivered two of the best lines of the movie that made the audience laugh out loud.


The Beguiled Colin Farrell and Elle Fanning image
Colin Farrell and Elle Fanning



THE BEGUILED is a beautiful-to-look-at tense atmospheric movie. The characters are marvellous and I would pay a lot of money to see this performed on the stage. The cast delivers their A-Game and Coppola always does, so much so for this she won the Best Director award at Cannes. It was let down by the climax and the audience needed something a little more after that beautiful slow build. I used to loathe Nicole Kidman but over the last couple of years I have fallen in love with her and I would recommend this movie on her performance alone. It’s not as good as LOST IN TRANSLATION but it’s something a sedated Guillermo del Toro would make.






 owns, writes and edits Salty Popcorn and Spooning Australia. He is a movie, food, restaurant, wine, chocolate, bacon, burger and brussels sprouts addict. He is a member of the Australian Film Critics Association and has been in the  industry for 26yrs. Furthermore he loves watching people trip over and is Leonardo DiCaprio’s biggest fan. 

** Images used are courtesy of various sources on Google or direct from the distributor or publisher. Credit has been given to photographers where known – images will be removed on request.