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Film Review: Louisiana-Shot The Beguiled

15:36 June 22, 2017
By: Fritz Esker

Filmed near Louisiana, Sofia Coppola’s film The Beguiled is a remake of the Don Siegel/Clint Eastwood collaboration (full disclosure: I have not seen the original). Coppola's version works well until the plot gears start grinding a little too hard in the final half hour.

Late in the Civil War, a boarding school for young girls struggles to stay afloat with only a few students, one teacher (Kirsten Dunst), and a headmistress (Nicole Kidman). When one of the girls finds a wounded Union soldier (Colin Farrell) nearby, they take him in and tend to his wounds after some argument.

As usual, Coppola has a keen visual sense and does a good job of keeping the story tight and controlled (it runs a fleet 90 minutes). Farrell does strong work, pulling off the balancing act of seeming simultaneously sincere and dangerous. For the first hour, seeing him interact with the women and girls (most develop crushes on him) makes for a good character-driven work. But about two-thirds of the way through, an incident happens that steers the film towards melodrama. The finale isn’t bad, but it left me wishing the rest of the movie had stayed low-key like it’s superior first hour.

*** stars (out of four)

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