The Beguiled [2017] ★★½

I admire filmmaker Sofia Coppola’s work, but I can’t say I’m her biggest fan. One thing she’s managed to maintain through the years is her ability to dazzle her audience with beautiful images and meticulous attention to detail, and all this can be seen in her latest film, “The Beguiled”, a remake of Don Siegel’s 1971 movie, which in turn was based on a 1966 novel by Thomas Cullinan. Siegel’s version starred Clint Eastwood as a wounded Yankee who finds refuge in a Southern girls school during the civil war. In Coppola’s world, that same man is played by Colin Farrell and the women who take him in are played by Nicole Kidman, Kirsten Dunst, and Elle Fanning. It’s an all-star cast, and each gets a chance to shine. But as much as I found the story intriguing, which unfolds at a deliberately slow pace, I can’t say I loved the overall result. On the plus side, the film is a feast for the eyes: Anne Ross’s production design and Stacey Battat’s costumes are beautiful beyond description. Obviously they took their cues from Coppola, who knows exactly how to impress. But as the film went on, I found myself losing interest in the story, which did not happen when I watched the 1971 version a few years ago. Is Don Siegel’s film superior? Personally, I’d say yes. This doesn’t mean that the new film doesn’t have its moments, but those moments don’t add up to a solid screenplay. As much as I wanted to love this film, I can’t help feeling slightly disappointed.

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