THE BEGUILED — Review by Susan Granger

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Stylish filmmaker Sofia Coppola (“Marie Antoinette,” “Lost in Translation”) has adapted Don Siegel’s lurid 1971 Clint Eastwood western, based on the pulpy 1966 Thomas P. Cullinan novel. Set in war-ravaged Virginia in 1864, it begins as a badly wounded Union solder, Corporal John McBurney (Colin Farrell), collapses near Miss Farnsworth’s Seminary for Young Ladies, where he’s spotted by a youngster, curious Miss Amy (Oona Laurence), who is collecting mushrooms in the moss-draped woods. Continue reading…

Since the onset of the Civil War, the inhabitants of the plantation house have been not been able to leave the premises and have not laid eyes on a man.

“You are a most unwelcome visitor,” declares matriarchal Miss Martha (Nicole Kidman).

Indeed, Cpl. McBurney’s predatory presence immediately ignites a toxic brew of desire and jealousy, particularly between the gullibly romantic teacher, Miss Edwina (Kirsten Dunst), and the saucy teenager, Miss Alicia (Elle Fanning).

As all the young ladies vie for his attention, Miss Martha observes: “It seems like the soldier being here is having an effect.”

Tackling the vengeful headmistress role originated by Geraldine Page, Kidman slyly embodies the simmering, repressed sexuality of the period, as do the rest of the ensemble. Christian women of the Confederacy were raised in a rigorously puritanical sisterhood, schooled in prim ‘n’ proper artifice, disguising their destiny as decorative ornaments.

Collaborating with cinematographer Philippe Le Sourd, production designer Anne Ross, and costumer Stacey Battat, writer/director Sofia Coppola tastefully captures the muted, candle-lit Southern Gothic atmospheric style, filming in and around New Orleans.

Interestingly, author Thomas Cullinan conceived the scheming soldier as Irish, so Colin Farrell’s Dublin accent makes him even more exotic, sexy and charming. In this manipulative melodrama, he’s believable as a mercenary who deserted when faced with the horrors of battle.

On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “The Beguiled” is a savory, estrogenic 7, a subtle potboiler that empowers the feminist perspective.

EDITOR’S NOTE: The Beguiled is AWFJ’s Movie of the Week (#MOTW) for June 30, 2017,

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Susan Granger

Susan Granger is a product of Hollywood. Her natural father, S. Sylvan Simon, was a director and producer at R.K.O., M.G.M. and Columbia Pictures; her adoptive father, Armand Deutsch, produced movies at M.G.M. As a child, Susan appeared in movies with Abbott & Costello, Red Skelton, Lucille Ball, Margaret O'Brien and Lassie. She attended Mills College in California, studying journalism with Pierre Salinger, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, Phi Beta Kappa, with highest honors in journalism. During her adult life, Susan has been on radio and television as an anchorwoman and movie/drama critic. Her newspaper reviews have been syndicated around the world, and she has appeared on American Movie Classics cable television. In addition, her celebrity interviews and articles have been published in REDBOOK, PLAYBOY, FAMILY CIRCLE, COSMOPOLITAN, WORKING WOMAN and THE NEW YORK TIMES, as well as in PARIS MATCH, ELLE, HELLO, CARIBBEAN WORLD, ISLAND LIFE, MACO DESTINATIONS, NEWS LIMITED NEWSPAPERS (Australia), UK DAILY MAIL, UK SUNDAY MIRROR, DS (France), LA REPUBBLICA (Italy), BUNTE (Germany), VIP TRAVELLER (Krisworld) and many other international publications through SSG Syndicate. Susan also lectures on the "Magic and Mythology of Hollywood" and "Don't Take It Personally: Conquering Criticism and other Survival Skills," originally published on tape by Dove Audio.