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The Beguiled

Innocent, until betrayed. 

Year: 2017 
Running Time:
Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1 (Wide) 
Certificate: BBFC 15 Cert – Not suitable for under 15s 
Subtitles: This film is expected to have certain elements which are subtitled, but it is not expected that the entire film will contain them. 
Directed by Sofia Coppola 
Starring: Nicole Kidman, Kirsten Dunst, Elle Fanning, Colin Farrell  
An image from The Beguiled

Miss Martha’s Seminary for Young Ladies has managed to stay running while the American Civil War has raged for three long bitter years. Though the building is pretty remote and increasingly dilapidated, the school always gets by somehow as they can always depend on each other. However, when they take in a wounded solider (Colin Farrell) everything starts to fall apart...

The headmistress and matriarch of the Confederate boarding school, Miss Martha (Nicole Kidman) is understandably suspicious of the Union soldier, but compelled to practice the Christian values she exalts to the girls and young women. She hopes to nurse the young man back to health (and then send him on his way as soon as possible).

Corporal John McBurney has no loyalty to anyone but himself. As a deserter, he is afraid of being caught by both sides, and has no interest in going anywhere. A skilled manipulator and opportunist, he deploys his charms so deftly that it’s not long before everyone starts competing for his favour. While John thinks he has everyone and everything under control, playing with so many women’s hearts in such a stifling and isolated atmosphere cannot end well for anybody…

The Beguiled has a more stripped-down narrative than the 1966 Thomas P Cullinan novel, and this works to splendid effect on the silver screen. The resulting film is a tense melodrama, liberally sprinkled with dark comedy. Nicole Kidman and Kirsten Dunst are a joy to behold, although the cast is strong all-round.

Natalie Tyldesley-Marshall

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Screenings of this film:

2017/2018 Autumn Term (digital)