Focus Features latest film The Beguiled has an all-star cast which includes Nicole Kidman, Kirsten Dunst and Elle Fanning. Not to mention one of my favorite directors Sofia Coppola, so you know that this film will be visually stunning.What I love is the movement of more women in the lead roles on screen and off screen. The press conferences for The Beguiled have included the main women in the film as well as Sofia Coppola with Colin Farrell and producer Youree Henley joining in Cannes.
The Beguiled is based on a 1966 novel by Thomas P. Cullinan, and was previously adapted to film in 1971 by Don Siegel and starring Clint Eastwood. The original The Beguiled tells the story of an injured Union fighter who seduces several of the women at Farnsworth Seminary in Virginia, a Southern school for girls which stirs up some serious drama and doesn not end well for the soldier. He becomes the common enemy of these girls and wrath.
One of the parts of the books that is missing in the movie is the enslaved housemaid Mattie (aka Hallie in original film) as well as switching out a mixed race young girl named Edwina into a white teacher played by Kirsten Dunst. This has caused some controversy due to the push in Hollywood for more cultural authenticity and casting diversity; however when BuzzFeed spoke with Coppola, she stated “I didn’t want to brush over such an important topic in a light way. Young girls watch my films and this was not the depiction of an African-American character I would want to show them.”
As a huge Sofia Coppola fan (I loved Marie Antoinette and Lost in Translation), I like to trust her artistic nature but I am not sold on her interpretation of the book by the deletion of an enslaved black woman but I am not sold on this particular edit. I think young women need to be exposed to history in a true form especially since Sofia stated in the press junket that they “had an etiquette teacher and a dancing instructor and a Civil War re-enactor teaching us (them) about the bandaging and we had a sewing person.” Kirsten Dunst also said that they had a bible study led by Nicole Kidman to understand what life was like for these women.
This movie is directed beautifully and will keep you entranced the whole time. I don’t wonder why Sofia Coppola took home the Best Director award at the 2017 Cannes Film Festival for this gothic thriller.
The Beguiled is out in theaters June 23rd…Go see these #VengefulBitches