The Beguiled is a respectable but pallid redo of a hothouse Civil War melodrama made with much more flair and power by Don Siegel, and starring Clint Eastwood, 46 years ago. Other than to place slightly more emphasis on the female empowerment angle of a group of Southern women turning the tables on an injured but scheming Yankee soldier they’ve taken into their isolated household, it’s hard to detect a strong raison d’etre behind Sofia Coppola’s slow-to-develop melodrama. Focus Features will release this modest effort in late June as counter-programming presumably aimed at a youngish female audience.
Rendered in soft, sometimes indistinct images illuminated only by candlelight or other natural sources, the tale consists of an emotional chess match among women of various ages who are trying to survive the war in a beautiful mansion that serves as a “seminary for young ladies”; the object of their mutual fascination is an Irish (to accommodate the accent Colin Farrell has chosen to use) Union soldier they discover badly wounded and nurse back to health, at their peril.
Venue: Cannes Film Festival (in competition)
Opens: July 27 (Focus Features)
Production: American Zoetrope
Director: Sofia Coppola
Screenwriter: Sofia Coppola, based on the novel by Thomas P. Cullinan and the screenplay by Albert Maltz and Irene Kamp
Producers: Roman Coppola, Sofia Coppola, Youree Henley
Executive producers: Fred Roos, Anne Ross
Director of photography: Philippe Le Sourd
Production designer: Anne Ross
Costume designer: Stacey Battat
Casting: Courtney Bright, Nicole Daniels