Director has built a name of herself clearly distinct from the one of her illustrious father by describing the world of women, their fears and tragedies, their anxieties and ambiguities, their relation with the world of men and the results (in many cases tragic) of the clash of cultures between Venus and Mars. I expect any of her movies, wherever and whenever the story is set, to deal with these themes. The Beguiled is not exception to the rule, it even goes farther and digs deeper then her previous films.

 

source http://www.imdb.com/title/tt5592248

source http://www.imdb.com/title/tt5592248

 

The movie is based on a novel by Thomas Cullinan which was already brought to screen in 1971 by with a cast that included and However, it’s not a remake but rather a different interpretation of the story, told from the point of view of the community of women gathered in a school for Southern girls in Virginia by the end of the Civil War, who save the life of a wounded Yankee soldier they find in the wood near the premises of the school. The whole story builds around the mixed feelings of distrust and human compassion, desire and sexual awakening, social and cultural differences between the wounded soldier () on one side, and the school principal (), her assistant () and the other girls on the other side. That was time of war and that was a war that changed America, in which social and class taboos were broken. The characters came to revelations not only about the nature of the enemy but also and most of all about themselves.

 

(video source Focus Features)

 

I liked the way the story was told and the characters developed, with the exception of the character played by who is supposed to play a key role in the change of pace and perspective in the middle of the action, but offers few arguments excepting her age and appearance. All the other actors – , , and especially give fine performances. Dunst especially grows into a fine actor undertaking more complex roles. The story building is carefully supported by actors work, by the sets (the mansion that hosts the school, the woods around with the nature threatening to take over the building same as the realities of the war threaten the close universe of the girls school), the background sounds of the war. The characters keep a useful dose of mystery for themselves, none of them is a saint or a full devil. They are human in extreme conditions, war made them political enemies, nature made them enemies in the war of sexes, but they find out that the enemy is not what they believed – for the good and for the worse. This story of reprieved passion that turns into historic thriller and horror works well under Coppola’s screen direction. Do we still need to remind which of the Coppolas?