I was hoping to see this movie because the trailers made it look like a period piece that was well shot, well acted, and kind of screwed up. However, while there may be one or two scenes that someone might consider “disturbing”, this movie isn’t nearly as screwed up as the trailers made it out to be.
I would be upset with this false advertising, but as it turns out, The Beguiled is still a really fantastic film.
If you haven’t heard of this film, here’s a synopsis in twenty words or less:
During the Civil War, a wounded Union soldier is found and taken to a girl’s school where he’s tended to.
The premise makes for some interesting dynamics as the girls there have not seen a man in a long time, and the soldier has not seen women in a while either. Additionally, this girl’s school is in Confederate territory. This concoction leads to quite the entertaining game of psychological and emotional manipulation.
Because I didn’t know what “Beguile” means, I looked it up, and it means “to influence by trickery, flattery, etc.; mislead; delude“. This is the most fitting title for this movie because every single character, throughout the entire story, beguiles or is beguiled by someone else. At first it’s just Colin Farrell toying with these kind, but naive, girls, but by the end, it seems like everyone is playing a game of manipulation with someone else.
Every performer that was given something to work with is great in their role, and the two girls that really aren’t given much character do not perform terribly and do not feel like they don’t belong in this film.
There is no one that blew me away with their performance, but if I had to pick a favorite character out of all of them, I would easily say that Nicole Kidman was the most interesting character of the house.
The rest of the girls really shined by how different their reactions are to a handsome, smooth-talking man. I don’t want to compare the film to The Bachelor, because The Bachelor is a stupid show for stupid people, but I find the comparison fitting, because all of these girls end up trying to impress the man with different tactics, and some of them even turn on each other because of their jealousy.
The film is shot well above average, and there is some very subtle character development that is done by how certain scenes are shot and how certain characters dressed themselves. Much of this development is never mentioned, and it would only be caught if you were paying attention. This made the film feel that much more authentic and absorbing.
The critiques I have for this film are extremely minor.
I can tell that a lot of people who might watch this film will accuse it of being “slow”.
There’s a few scenes where something is done off camera instead of on camera, and every time it happened, it was either because it would have been more effort to actually show it happening or doing so would have been disturbing if it wasn’t off camera. For this kind of movie, the scenes would have made the movie even more enthralling, especially since it has an R rating… and no, none of the scenes I’m referring to involve sexual contact, by the way.
The ending is also abrupt and inconclusive.
But none of these critiques make the movie “bad”, but if they fixed them, the movie would have been better.
I think this movie was great, and you can tell that a lot of effort was put into the execution of this story, and everything about it is well done. I hear a lot of talk about this movie being an “Oscar contender”, but in my opinion, I don’t think any of the performances will be strong enough to take away any awards. But who knows? I didn’t think Moonlight should have won best picture, but I got that wrong.
In any case, if you saw the trailers for this movie, and you thought you’d like it, then go see The Beguiled.
7 out of 10