Sofia Coppola’s The Beguiled is a ravishing film to look at, and I’m not surprised that she won Best Director at Cannes. This is a Cannes movie if there ever was one, and on a production/aesthetic level, it’s one of the richest pieces I’ve seen this year. I’d have to assume that the utterly stunning cinematography by Phillipe Le Sourd utilized natural light and nothing else, because those were some of the inkiest blacks I’ve seen in years; I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that the film was shot on film, rather than digitally. The use of candles in this film was striking, giving an even further gothic glow to the proceedings.
Stacey Battat’s totally authentic and exquisitely designed costumes frequently stole the show and will undoubtedly become Oscar nominated. The production design by Anne Ross is the cherry on top, with the spooky house setting never being taken over the top, while everything felt lived-in and old-timey without being ostentatious. Sarah Flack’s sharp editing kept a fast pace which ran counter to the languid and static visual style – very cool mix of styles right there.
Coppola’s version of story always going to be compared to Don Siegel’s 1971 original, but by shifting the POV to the group of women and away from wounded soldier, a new take on a familiar story was able to be played out, and I found her version to be even more blackly comedic and sinister than its predecessor, which I happen to feel is excellent in its own way. All of the performances were spot-on, with Colin Farrell yet again doing underappreciated work in a distinctive piece of filmmaking. Well-reviewed by critics and a financial success in theaters, The Beguiled is available on Blu-ray, DVD, and via various streaming providers.
Review by Nick Clement