Skip to main content

New Promo For #LADYBIRD

Movie Review: #TheBeguiled

The Civil War-era drama The Beguiled reeks with a molasses-like pace and a fixation on empty moments.

Review by Matt Cummings

The idea of Counter Programming at the domestic box office is not a new thing. Most of the time it works: pair a film made for kids with another just for the adults, and you have a successful evening out. Unfortunately, the disease that has become the 2017 Summer box office has infected so many releases that audiences are likely to stay home. Such is the case with The Beguiled, a movie with tremendous potential that dotes and doddles for 93 minutes before giving us a totally empty ending.

Just one year before the end of The Civil War, and Southern plantations aren't the only ones to suffer from a lack of slaves. Even female boarding houses like the one run by Miss Martha (Nicole Kidman) are shoddy remnants of their former selves. Battles seem to happen near them quite often, and soon it deposits the injured Corporal John McBurney (Colin Farrell) in its wake. A young student (Oona Laurence) brings the injured man home, only to gain the ire of Miss Martha. But the other girls - including Edwina (Kristen Dunst) and Alicia (Elle Fanning) - are instantly taken with him. The sexual tension - pushed by the traitorous McBurney - elevates, leading one girl after another to hope for a late-night visit. But when an unexpected moment turns the house upside down, McBurney is cast into madness, forcing the women to take drastic actions to stop him from killing them.

Director Sofia Coppola's sixth film struggles to keep our attention, opting for many, many moments of Southern life over telling a real story. Your proof arrives early and often in the script by Coppola and Writer Albert Maltz and Irene Kamp. There, we hear of seemingly important conversations between Ferrell and Laurence that are instead summarized by the girl later on. Then, it's off to the lookout station and digging holes. Lots of them. Or cutting trees. Such is the pace of The Beguiled that one wonders whether an actual story will take place. Soon, one arrives but many of the characters - smitten with the opposite sex - aren't given much to do. One scene late in the third act - a fornication soon after one takes over the seminary - is particularly empty. Sure, there's moments when the two express their love for the other, but based on the fit of violence that takes place in the previous scene, the coitus comes across as entirely unrealistic. Moreover, there's no reason for it to happen in the first place, and there's no consequence from it.

But it's not like this very capable troupe isn't trying to elevate things. Kidman is 19th Century Victorian Belle to a tee, while Laurence once again turns in another great performance as the naive Amy. She sees McBurney as her hero, and to watch that slowly fade away is perhaps the film's strongest part. Fanning is exceptional in her seductive slow burn (see The Neon Demon), but here she's just an oversexualized misfit who should be banned from the seminary because of her effect on others. Dunst is supposed to be playing a younger woman here, but she's missed the boat on playing those roles now, and so she becomes something of a spinster, and that doesn't suit her at all. We come to this conclusion because for most of The Beguiled, her intentions and desires are ultimately unknown. She wants an end to The Civil War, but who didn't at that time? So when it's time for her take charge of her life, we're not sure why she's made the choice at all. The same can be said for Ferrell's McBurney. His demise perhaps rings the emptiest, because we simply don't have any investment in him. To us, he becomes stain to be cleaned off the wall, rather than a sympathetic villain which we can debate after the lights have come up.

What does work in The Beguiled is the incredible production design by Anne Ross and Costume Designer Stacey Battat. Both deserve Oscar consideration, as it's the most authentic portrayal of Civil War-era environments that I've seen in recent memory. Night scenes are lighted entirely by candlelight, and day scenes produce stark lighting through the windows to reveal gorgeous sets and dresses. But we're ultimately here for story, and that's where The Beguiled fails so miserably. Instead of revealing intent and history, it plods on with girls raking, and pruning, and fetching water. I get it: times were tough, but we don't need minutes of each of these and other chores rather than getting meaningful character development.

For all the beauty behind The Beguiled, it lacks a sense of richness in its storytelling. Characters are underserved, and their intentions are not at all clear, leading to an ending that feels underwhelming, especially the end image that's supposed to demonstrate female power over the situation. The effect is choppy, because it's once again not about the characters but the mood. Production design and attention to era lifestyles is appreciated, and while critics are raving over it, I'm not. Skip this Virginia bore and have your own party. It should be far more entertaining than this dull molasses drip.

The Beguiled is rated R for some sexuality and has a runtime of 93 minutes.

Discuss this review with fellow SJF fans on Facebook. On Twitter, follow us at @SandwichJohnFilms, and follow author Matt Cummings at @mfc90125.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Morbius: The Living Vampire Film In The Works

The Spider spin-offs keep on coming! With Venom now shooting, an even more obscure character from the web-slinger's extensive comicbook past has now been unearthed, with plans for a movie. Power Rangers writing duo Matt Sazama and Burk Sharpless are in talks to craft the script for Morbius: The Living Vampire.

Sony is pushing ahead with another potential Spider-movie, which, like Venom, is unlikely to be linked to the MCU. What it will boast, however, is the story of Michael Morbius, a Nobel Prize-winning biochemist who tries to cure a rare blood disease using an experimental treatment that combines electroshock therapy and vampire bats. The results are predictably catastrophic, and he's transformed into... well, the title should be a clue. He has some of the traditional vampiric qualities – he ingests blood to live, and conversely is not fond of bright light. He can fly, has superhuman strength and healing capabilities. When he bites victims and drinks their blood, his attac…

Enter For A Chance To Win A Family Four Pack To See COCO In Minnesota

© 2017 Disney/Pixar Enter for your chance to win a family four pack to see COCO in Minnesota on November 15th at 7:30PM.

In Disney•Pixar’s “Coco,” aspiring musician Miguel (voice of newcomer Anthony Gonzalez) teams up with charming trickster Hector (voice of Gael García Bernal) on an extraordinary journey through the Land of the Dead.



In theatres November 22!

CLICK HERE TO ENTER-

Website: movies.disney.com/coco
Facebook: /PixarCoco
Twitter: @pixarcoco
Hashtag: #PixarCoco

While supplies last. Once all allotted passes are redeemed, the code will no longer be valid. Supplies are limited.

NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Limit one (1) admit-two pass per person. This film is rated PG. Must be 13 years of age or older to win passes. Employees of all promotional partners and their agencies are not eligible. Void where prohibited. Entries must be received by [12:00PM], [11-19-2017] to be eligible to receive pass. Winners will be contacted via e-mail to receive their pass. Sponsors not responsible for…

Enter For A Chance To Win Passes To See DARKEST HOUR In Dallas

Enter For A Chance To Win Passes To See DARKEST HOUR on December 5th at 7:00 PM in Dallas

During the early days of World War II, with the fall of France imminent, Britain faces its darkest hour as the threat of invasion looms. As the seemingly unstoppable Nazi forces advance, and with the Allied army cornered on the beaches of Dunkirk, the fate of Western Europe hangs on the leadership of the newly-appointed British Prime Minister Winston Churchill (Academy Award nominee Gary Oldman). While maneuvering around his political rivals, he must confront the ultimate choice: negotiate with Hitler and save the British people at a terrible cost or rally the nation and fight on against incredible odds. Directed by Joe Wright, DARKEST HOUR is the dramatic and inspiring story of four weeks in 1940 during which Churchill’s courage to lead changed the course of world history.



CLICK HERE TO ENTER-

#DarkestHour
http://www.DarkestHourFilm.com
https://www.facebook.com/darkesthourfilm
https://twitter.c…