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When one thinks of the south in the 1800’s, we envision polite, docile porcelain skinned women, whose only job is to serve their men.  More often than not, these women are seen and seldom heard for an opinion or anything else.  Well, in Sofia Coppola’s The Beguilded, based on the Thomas Cullinan novel, these women are anything but docile.


Starring Nicole Kidman, Kirsten Dunst, Elle Fanning and Colin Farrell the south will never be the same.  Unfolding during the Civil War, at a Southern girls’ boarding school, when these sheltered young women take in an injured soldier their lives take a turn for the worst. The sexual tension with a handsome stranger sets off dangerous rivalries within the house and instigates broken taboos that flip a turn of events you’ll never see coming.  I know I didn’t and was not ready of all this drama and intrigue at 9am when I screened the film.

Sofia Coppola is to be applauded for not being a predictable filmmaker in her style, nor choice of genre.  Between The Book of Henry, Loving and now The Beguilded, Focus Features doesn’t shy away from controversial content and this year is no exception.   If you’ve seen her work with Lost in Translation and The Bling Ring, you are really not ready for The Beguilded and will most pleasantly surprised.

Nicole Kidman (Martha Farnsworth) is exceptional portraying  the “ice queen of the south” whose curt stare and chilly tone would scare anyone to death.  Kirsten Dunst as the “yearning, lustful virgin” gives the audience a well flushed out character filled with complexity and compassion as Edwina Dabney.    “For me, I felt the whole house was so suffocating that by the time we bring this enemy in, there’s so much opposition inside of her.  She’s trying to be a good Christian, good example to the girls and on top of it all she’s under Miss Martha’s thumb while dealing with repression.”    “So basically, Edwina’s just ready to explode,,” Dunst explained .   Elle Fanning is a “good girl gone wild” and is absolutely captivating to watch.  Every time she quips with a smile, it makes you want to just smack that smirk right off her face.

The remainder of the exceptionally strong female ensemble provide humor, snarkiness and innocence at its best include Anjourie Rice (Jane), Addison Riecke (Marie), Oona Laurence (Amy) and Emma Howard (Emily).

What is the best thing about this film other than the fact that it boasts a very impressive roster of women in front of and behind the lens?  Two words – Colin Farrell.  I swear he could make a lesbian straight with those dark eyes and rugged, charming sensibility. Farrell literally is the human embodiment of the word “beguiled.”   When his character takes a dark turn, I couldn’t decide if I wanted to snatch a knot in his rear end or have complete unwavering empathy.    He’s like that bad boy you know you should run away from, but you just can’t help being intrigued and sucked into his web.  Now, we all with know a man like that, been involved with one or fantasized about stepping out of our norm…haven’t we?!  Is it ever worth it?  Sure, it’s exciting and they may make your toes curl, but is it really worth the outcome?

The Beguilded, garnered a Best Director award for Sofia Coppola and hits theaters in New York and LA on June 23rd with a nationwide release on June 30th.

If you thought the Clint Eastwood version took you for a ride…you ain’t seen nothing yet.  During our junket in Beverly Hills, Sofia, Elle and Kirsten spoke on such issues as feminism, reverse objectification, following in the steps of Beyoncé and much more.  Here are a few excerpts…

PRESS:  With the changing landscape in Hollywood, what does feminism mean to you today?

SOFIA:  To me it just means equal rights.  As far as in the film, I’m interested in stories that have a female point of view.  We’re half of the population, so I’m happy to put that out there…showing complex female characters that we all can relate to.

PRESS:  So, at the end of the movie something that stuck out is when you guys are sitting on the porch looking real badass and I know that the house was from Beyoncé’s “Lemonade” video.  Was that intentional?  And were there any challenges with the time period concerning etiquette or any funny moments around wearing corsets and costume and things?

SOFIA:  Yeah, you know, we didn’t know that Beyonce’ had shot there until these guys…they saw the chair…

ELLE:  We saw that chair and then we asked the owners.  I was like mad that they didn’t tell us they shot “Lemonade” here and they were like , “Oh yeah, yeah Beyonce’ was here…lol

KIRSTEN:  Like I bet she didn’t stay where we stayed though.  I bet she didn’t stay at the Hamptons Inn (laughter).

SOFIA:  But, we all had to take turns taking photos of being Beyoncé’, then switching it up being Serena Williams.  So, yeah it was a coincidence.  You asked about the etiquette?  I wanted the story to be one a modern audience would be able to connect to and I think the hardest part was the dialogue.  As you improvise you have to sound real to the period.  We spent a week before rehearsing with an etiquette teacher, dancing instructor and Civil War re-enacter teaching us about the bandaging and we had a sewing person.

KIRSTEN:  Oh yeah, we did that!  We had prayer time.

ELLE:  Yes, Bible study…

KIRSTEN:  Bible Study with Nicole

SOFIA:  We tried to get into what it was like for these women and how they spent their days, learning sewing, etiquette and how they carried themselves at that time.

PRESS:  Sofia, can you talk a little bit about the casting the Colonel?

SOFIA:  He had to be really masculine, intriguing and charming to a 12-year-old and a woman in her 40’s.  If he was just a cute hunk, he had to be complicated and that you’d believe that he could really captivate them…and not too creepy, too. It was a balance to find so many elements and when I met Colin, he’s just so charming.  The character in the book was actually an Irish immigrant, so Colin’s natural accent makes him even more exotic .  I just think because he’s so charming, charismatic and we wanted him to be sexy and really, you know, masculine in contrast to this feminine world.  So yeah, I felt he fit the bill.

KIRSTEN:  You know what I just remembered.  He was the most concerned about, he was like, “I gotta lose weight.”

ELLE:  Yeah, he’s also the most naked in the film.

KIRSTEN:  Yeah, he was like living off like nuts and seeds and he had to get his weight down.

ELLE:  Yeah, then he drove all the way back to New Orleans from the plantation to get a hamburger because he hadn’t had any. {LAUGHTER}

KIRSTEN:  He was very nice about letting us objectify him. {LAUGHTER}

CARLA:  I kind of love you all for that!  Hi, I’m Carla, The Curvy Film Critic and this question is for Sofia.  But, before I say that, let me just say I was not ready for this at 9 a.m.  I’m just saying.  {LAUGHTER}. You all rocked my world at 9 o’clock in the morning…Okay?

KIRSTEN:  There’s brunch outside.  You can grab a mimosa.

CARLA:  Oh. Hello (LAUGHER as she raises her glass)…and that’s not the first one.  But, anyway, so Sofia , my questions are regarding the filmmaking and the music.  I noticed  that there is no underscoring for most of the film except for the children singing a capella and the parlor singing.  I also wanted to know what was your choice in shooting the film so dark?  Was it to keep the theme of the film in that dark space?  Because usually when films are shot in the South, it’s all bright, lovely, wonderful and all that…so I just wondered what your choices were regarding those two things.

SOFIA:  Yeah.  Thanks.  I wanted to really have as much tension as we could in the sexual tension and what’s going to happen.  With the sound, I thought keeping the music really minimal with these ominous tones underneath and letting the sound of the canons and nature take over.  Usually, when you have music it kind of breaks the tension, so I really tried to keep the tension suspended the whole film as much as we could.  As for the look of the film, we worked with this great cinematographer, Philippe Le Sourd and shot on film because I wanted to have this beautiful , very kind of feminine, gauzy look at the beginning that’s not threatening and then as the story turns…it gets darker.  I also wanted to feel the claustrophobia of them all trapped in the house with this dangerous enemy.  So, the thinking was to change the tone as the story gets darker and hopefully you don’t notice it’s happening until you’re kind of in it and get into the Southern gothic feeling of it.

CARLA:   Thank you.

SOFIA:  Thank you.


The Beguilded is a thrilling, exciting ride that will leave you onto edge of your seat, as well as,  a huge lesson in what women can accomplish when we stick together.   I also have an inkling that Ms. Coppola may just find herself as the first recipient of the Academy Award, which has eluded women for so long. Remember you heard it from The Curvy Film Critic first!!!

The Beguilded is open EVERYWHERE as of June 30th



I love, love love movies, watching them and discussing them...thus the birth of The Curvy Film Critic!!! Host/Producer/FilmCritic,Carla Renata is a member of such esteemed organizations as Critics Choice Association (Co-President Documentary Branch and Board Member), African American Film Critics Association and Online Association of Female Film Critics. My op-eds or features have been seen in Variety ,, The Wrap The Cherry Picks, as well as being a frequent Guest Contributor to Fox 11-LA, Good Day LA, ET Live!, Turner Classic Movies, The Cherry Picks, The Stream Team (Beond TV) ITV, Fox Soul's The Black Report, The ListTV and more. Catch my reviews on The Curvy Critic with Carla Renata - LIVE!!! Sundays 5pm PST via You Tube or Facebook Live. If you like what you read please shout me out and subscribe to The Curvy Critic on YouTube. You can chat with me across all social media platforms @TheCurvyCritic and as always, thanks for supporting a sista'

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