What is the correct amount of time to remake a good movie? I pose this question as I just finished watching Sofia Coppola’s remake of 1977’s “The Beguiled”. Forty years seems like a good amount of time to me and plus a member of cinema royalty is directing this version. For the most part, I am not a fan of remakes, but I always believe anything done right is worth doing.
In 1864 in the South during the Civil War living life, simply consisted of staying alive. Miss Martha (Nicole Kidman) has a house in which she runs a boarding school for a few girls. Somehow these girls have stayed hidden from the war, even though a battle looms not too far from them. While picking mushrooms, Amy (Oona Laurence) comes across a wounded Union solider. He introduces himself as Corporal McBurney (Colin Farrell) and asks Amy to help him. Being the good girl she is, Amy brings the Corporal back to the house and since he seems to be on death’s door, Miss Martha brings him inside and tends to his wound. Slowly the Corporal starts to regain his strength and offers to help around the house, mainly with the garden. Trouble soon starts to come as the girls in the house begin to compete for the Corporal’s attention. With most of the girls being younger it is Edwina (Kristen Dunst) and Alicia (Elle Fanning) who have caught the Corporal’s eye as well. When he chooses one and is caught, an accident happens that will disrupt the peacefulness of the house and brings about what they have avoided for so long.
Fresh off Coppola’s best director win at the Cannes Film Festival, “The Beguiled” is coming out at the right time. Coppola has a way of finding beauty in subtle quiet moments and she does it with a masterful eye once again. Having not seen the original all I had for a reference point is having read interviews with Coppola as decided to turn the story towards the women’s point of view. Coppola’s vision is not the only thing shinning in this film. The performances are all really good, lead by Kidman and Farrell. The word that best describes this film to me would be crisp, from everything to the performances to the pace of the film. Coppola somehow makes the short run time feel longer, but not in the looking at your watch kind of way, but more in the “ I am glad I was in this world a little longer” way. This is a good film, and while at times you wish more happened, you end up appreciating what you experience. Coppola is one of those filmmakers you know what you will be getting and with “The Beguiled” she comes through once again.