"Not Beguiling Enough"
What You Need To Know:
THE BEGUILED is well directed and acted. Director Sofia Coppola does a good job making sure the plot runs smoothly. However, the new BEGUILED seems colder and more superficial. The interplay between the characters is not as interesting or as well developed as the 1971 version. Thus, it’s not quite as dramatic and captivating. Finally, MOVIEGUIDE® wouldn’t call either movie a redemptive, morally uplifting work. Extreme caution is advised.
(Ro, Fe, C, B, AbAb, L, VVV, SS, N, AA, MM) Light Romantic, feminist worldview with some Christian, moral content (including prayers, Bible references and talk about compassion/empathy), but female characters eventually come across as hypocrites and break their Christian vows when tempted by a man, who suddenly comes into their lives, and they eventually murder him, though movie does seem to reflect the biblical notion concern the sinful nature of human beings, despite the fact there’s no redemption at the end; one obscenity and one GD profanity; three bloody and somewhat gruesome close-up views of two different leg wounds (one scene shows wound being sewn upm and another scene shows a terrible leg fracture, angry man throws small pet turtle across the room, woman amputates man’s severely wounded legm and he gets terribly angry, woman catches man in 17-year-old’s bedroom and knocks him down the stairs, explosions heard in the distance; depicted fornication in one scene of couple on small bedm but camera doesn’t linger, woman catches unmarried man in 17-year-old’s bed kissing her, a couple scenes with passionate kissing, and some light sexual innuendo in conversations; upper male nudity; alcohol use and drunkenness; no smoking or drugs; and, temptation, jealousy, selfishness, betrayal, uncontrollable anger, and compassion without forgiveness.
THE BEGUILED is a remake of a unique 1971 Clint Eastwood movie by Don Siegel, where Eastwood plays a wounded, lustful Yankee soldier, who cons his way into the hearts of a lustful group of Confederate girls and women at an isolated boarding school. Though well directed and acted, the new BEGUILED seems colder and more superficial, especially regarding the way the characters are written and how they interact with each other.
Like the first movie, the new movie opens with 12-year-old Amy walking in a forest picking mushrooms. Unlike the first movie, however, instead of the Yankee soldier singing a Civil War song, Amy is singing “Lorena,” a popular, haunting Civil War song that was sometimes used by Director John Ford in his westerns. Amy comes upon the wounded soldier, John McBurney, and helps him to the Farnsworth Seminary for Girls. Led by the headmistress, Martha Farnsworth, the females decide that McBurney is too wounded to survive being placed in a Confederate prison camp, much less to move him there. So, they put McBurney in one of the downstairs rooms while Martha sews up his wounded leg.
As time passes, each of the girls, including Martha, Martha’s assistant, a young woman named Edwina, and 17-year-old Alicia befriend McBurney. In fact, Alicia even lies about leaving a prayer study so she can sneak into McBurney’s room to flirt with him.
Eventually, McBurney and Edina begin to develop a budding romance. At the same time, however, Martha grows closer to the Yankee soldier, and McBurney seems to begin responding to Alicia’s seductive charms. Lust, jealousy, betrayal, and violence soon follow.
Although it has some awkward narration by some of the females, the first BEGUILED has a bit more depth to its characterizations and dialogue. For instance, the movie reveals right away that Miss Edwina thinks that Carol (called Alicia in the new movie) is “a hussy,” a seductress. It’s also clearer in the Eastwood movie that McBurney is seducing and deceiving each of the females in the manner that suits their age and character traits. These differences seem to make the first movie more dramatic as well as deeper.
Finally, unlike the first movie, the new BEGUILED stresses the Christian prayers and beliefs of the females more when they first begin to interact with McBurney. Consequently, when they finally reveal the lust, jealousy or violence lurking in their hearts, these Christian ladies come across like hypocrites than women of faith. Ultimately, the ending in this BEGUILED isn’t quite as convincing.
That said, MOVIEGUIDE® wouldn’t call either movie a redemptive, morally uplifting work. Thus, we would advise extreme caution for both movies. At least in the first movie, however, one can see echoes of Director Don Siegel’s groundbreaking insight into the human heart from his other movies, which show that our sinful natures come to the forefront when we: 1) Let our passions destroy our sanity and lead us into madness (or into taking rash emotional actions such as striking out in violence) (the villain in DIRTY HARRY and Edwina in BEGUILED); or, 2) Quell our passions to the point that we become unfeeling automatons that abandon any signs of real human life, emotion or empathy (the pod people in INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS and Martha in the first BEGUILED).