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Marina Antunes [Celluloid 04.20.17] USA thriller western

Thomas Cullinan's 1966 novel "The Beguiled" has long been out of print but in the decades since its original release, it has continued to capture the attention of filmmakers. The first go at the material reunited director Don Siegel with Clint Eastwood for an adaptation that takes the basic themes and plot of the story and turns them up to 11. That movie still plays very well and is one I highly recommend searching out.

When it was announced that Sofia Coppola was putting her own spin on the project, I was excited. It's not often one gets to see the same material handled by both a male and female director and with the story at play here, the female gaze is sure to have some impact on the themes.

Colin Farrell stars as Corporal John McBurney, a wounded Union soldier injured in Virginia during the Civil War. A young girl comes upon him in the woods and takes him to her school, an all women's boarding/prep school which has been kept safe by headmistress Martha Farnsworth (Nicole Kidman) and her second in command Edwina (Kirsten Dunst). The introduction of a man into the insular school wreaks havoc on the women and the next thing you know, McBurney is sleeping around, the women are all in fluster and shit goes wrong.

The setup of The Beguiled lends itself well to exploring themes of sexuality, oppression and the perils of disconnecting from the outside world and I'm excited what other nuance Coppola brings to the material. If the trailers, including this latest Cannes anointed one, are any indication, she's not shying away from any of the difficult themes.

The Beguiled will be in the running for the Palm d'Or at Cannes in May before opening on June 30.

Recommended Release: The Beguiled

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