After the rip roaring fun of Spider-Man on Monday, Wednesday called for a genre I always hold dear to my heart - a period drama. But not just any period drama - a Southern Gothic thriller. Whether it's Gone With The Wind or Little Women, I've always been partial to a sassy southern belle and a civil war setting, so I was looking forward to Sofia Coppolla's take on Thomas Cullinan's pulp classic, The Beguiled. Knowing very little about the story apart from the promise of a dark spooky house and 'brief strong sex', I settled down with my Orangina, waiting for the drama to unfold.
|Time for a Disney show tunes medley|
Perhaps surprisingly at first, old McBurney lives the bachelor's dream. Surrounded by seven women spanning generations, he seems to be able to charm every single one of them in a matter of minutes (I guess he is Irish, after all). Soon the girls are falling over each other to get a piece of him, and what was supposed to be a short stay before they turn him into the Confederates becomes weeks. Of course though, like all good dreams, things soon start to go South (figuratively this time).
|"Did you bring me Pringles?"|
The sense of stillness throughout adds to the haunting tone: as the film progresses, the women feel more and more like some sort of ethereal cult, headed up by the ever ghost-like Nicole Kidman as school mistress Martha Farnsworth who conducts their evening prayers by candlelight. Kidman never loses control: she holds a confident authority over the girls and every decision they make (the good, the bad and the ugly). When the group perform music for McBurney, they place themselves into a portrait like formation, gazing down at him with an intensity that would put anyone on edge. Shots are slow and steady, peering through doors, down corridors and through binoculars: there is no escape from the enemy, whoever that might be.
|"Who loosened the ketchup lid?!"|
A beautiful looking film with strong yet understated performances and a real sense of chilling danger, The Beguiled is definitely worth seeking out on a cloudy afternoon (especially when you can even get home in time for a cup of tea)! Just don't get too comfortable in a house of seven women who haven't seen men in months.