The Beguiled (2017)

The Beguiled (2017) - Elle Fanning

Taglines: Innocent, until betrayed.

Three years into the senseless American Civil War, in 1864, the dilapidated mansion of Miss Martha Farnsworth’s Seminary for Young Ladies is still running, occupied by the matriarch, a teacher and five students in Spanish moss-draped Virginia. However, when a young student stumbles upon Corporal John McBurney, a wounded Union deserter on the verge of death, the already frail balance of things will be disrupted, as the hesitant headmistress decides to take him in to heal from his injury. Little by little, as the unwelcome guest arouses an uneasy sexual excitation among the women of the secluded boarding school, it is not before long that they will find themselves competing for the alluring man’s favour. Undoubtedly, this handsome devil is a manipulator, nevertheless, will the ladies stay forever beguiled by his charm?

The drama diretced by Sofia Coppola unfolds in a girls’ school in the state of Virginia in 1864. As the Civil War rages, The Miss Martha Farnsworth Seminary for Young Ladies has been sheltered from the outside world — until the day a wounded Union soldier is discovered nearby and taken in.

The Beguiled is a 2017 American drama film written and directed by Sofia Coppola, based on the novel of the same name (originally published as A Painted Devil) by Thomas P. Cullinan. It stars Colin Farrell, Nicole Kidman, Kirsten Dunst, and Elle Fanning. A film of the same name, also based on Cullinan’s book, was released in 1971, the year Coppola was born.

The Beguiled (2017) - Elle Fanning

It premiered on May 24 at the 2017 Cannes Film Festival, and was selected to compete for the Palme d’Or in its main competition section, where Coppola won the Best Director award, becoming only the second woman to do so. The film was released theatrically on June 23, 2017, by Focus Features.

Principal photography began on October 31, 2016 and concluded on December 7, 2016. Exterior scenes were shot on the grounds of the Madewood Plantation House, near Napoleonville, Louisiana. Interiors were filmed in actress Jennifer Coolidge’s house in New Orleans.

The Beguiled grossed $10.6 million in the United States and Canada and $16.1 million in other territories for a total of $26.7 million. In the film’s limited opening weekend, it made $240,545 from four theaters (a per-theater gross of $60,136), finishing 20th at the box office. In its wide opening, it made $3.2 million from 674 theaters (an average of $4,694), finishing 8th at the box office.

The Beguiled (2017) - Elle Fanning

About the Story

Martha Farnsworth is running a girls school in Virginia during the American Civil War. By 1864, almost all of the students, teachers and slaves have left. Only teacher Edwina Morrow and five students stay with Miss Farnsworth. While out in the woods searching for mushrooms, Amy, a pupil, comes across John McBurney, a corporal in the Union Army who was wounded in the leg during battle and has since deserted the battlefield. Amy brings McBurney to the school where he falls unconscious. The women lock McBurney in one of the rooms while Miss Farnsworth tends to his wounds. All the women and girls in the school are immediately fascinated by the handsome man.

At the beginning, some residents want him to be delivered as a prisoner of war to the Confederate Army but Miss Farnsworth decides that they will let his leg heal before they decide what they will do with him. When Confederate soldiers arrive at the school, Miss Farnsworth does not tell them that a Union soldier is on the premises. While he is recovering, the women and girls fight for McBurney’s affection, giving him presents, wearing jewellery and preparing a luxurious dinner for him. He returns the affection, especially concentrating on Miss Morrow and Miss Farnsworth. When he is able to move again, he begins to help in the garden. It becomes clear that he fears returning to the war.

The Beguiled (2017) - Kirsten Dunst

When Miss Farnsworth indicates that he is healthy enough and will have to leave the school in a few days, he tries to convince her to let him stay as a gardener and tells Miss Morrow that he has fallen in love with her. One night, he tells Miss Morrow to await him in her room. When he does not appear and she hears strange noises, she investigates and finds him in bed with Alicia, a teenaged student. When McBurney tries to calm Miss Morrow down, she pushes him away, leading to him falling down the stairs and badly breaking his injured leg. Miss Farnsworth decides that the only way to save him is to amputate his leg.

When McBurney awakes the next day and realizes he has lost his leg, he is devastated and furious, accusing the women and especially Miss Farnsworth, of having punished him for not choosing their rooms instead of Alicia’s. He is locked up in his room but threatens Alicia to get him the room key. He then breaks out, steals a gun, threatens the women and then storms off. Miss Morrow follows him to his room where they have passionate sex.

The Beguiled (2017)

Meanwhile Miss Farnsworth tries to find a solution. One of the students suggests killing McBurney by preparing a dinner for him using some poisonous mushrooms, to which she agrees. During the dinner, Miss Morrow, who is not informed of the plan, is deterred by the others at the last minute from putting the mushrooms on her own plate. McBurney does not get suspicious and eats the mushrooms. Seconds later he falls to the floor, dead. While the others are sewing McBurney’s body into a shroud, Miss Morrow looks on, devastated. The film ends with the women dragging his body to the road to let him be found by the next soldiers who come by.

The Beguiled Movie Poster (2017)

The Beguiled (2017)

Directed by: Sofia Coppola
Starring: Nicole Kidman, Elle Fanning, Kirsten Dunst, Colin Farrell, Angourie Rice, Oona Laurence, Addison Riecke, Emma Howard, Matt Story, Wayne Pére, Angourie Rice, Joel Albin, Eric Ian
Screenplay by: Sofia Coppola
Production Design by: Anne Ross
Cinematography by: Philippe Le Sourd
Film Editing by: Sarah Flack
Costume Design by: Stacey Battat
Set Decoration by: Amy Beth Silver
Art Direction by: Jennifer Dehghan
Music by: Phoenix
MPAA Rating: R for some sexuality.
Distributed by: Focus Features
Release Date: June 23, 2017