Complete A-Z list

Beguiled, The


Stars: Nicole Kidman, Colin Farrell, Kirsten Dunst, Elle Fanning

Director: Sofia Coppola

This remake of the Clint Eastwood 1970s' oddity has bags of southern Gothic atmosphere, but borders on the laugh-out-loud ridiculous almost throughout.

Against photography of the Bayou forest reminiscent of the Japanese classic Rashomon, we begin a story set in Virginia during the American Civil War. Wounded Yankee soldier John P McBurney (Farrell) is discovered in the woods by young Amy (Oona Lawrence) and taken to the nearby girls' seminary run by Miss Martha (Kidman).

Most of the pupils are away, leaving only a teacher, Miss Edwina (Dunst) and five students varying from 10 to 15.

The fetid atmosphere that results as McBurney recovers is like throwing a fox into a hencoop.

Much heavy breathing ensues, and Martha and Edwina are soon expecting a visit in their rooms, but McBurney chooses first to service flighty senior Alicia (Fanning), a liaison that results in a vengeful Edwina pushing him down the stairs, where he sustains a badly broken leg.

Miss Agatha calls for a saw, and Kidman gets a laugh with the classic line 'Edwina - bring me the anatomy book!' Tension, however, notably - and fatally - fails to rise, even as the atmosphere at the seminary heats up. Kidman and Dunst are good, but Farrell comes on rather too strong.

David Quinlan

USA 2017. UK Distributor: Universal (Focus). Technicolor/FotoKem.
93 minutes. Not widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 1, Violence/Horror 1, Drugs 0, Swearing 0.

Review date: 10 Jul 2017