I grew up loving Bill Murray, so in 2003 when there was so much buzz around his performance in “Lost in Translation” I was excited to see the film in the hopes that he would score his first Oscar nomination (which he did). When I emerged from the theater after seeing “Lost in Translation” nearly fourteen years ago I had two thoughts. The first was that both Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson both gave wonderful performances.
The second is that Sofia Coppola is a horrible director. For me “Lost in Translation” was the classic example of a bad film with good performances and as much as you like the performances you can’t really recommend the film. In fact Sophia Coppola’s awful direction was enough to get me to completely avoid her next three films despite the fact that she’s able to get wonderful actors to appear in them. Yet, for some reason (probably the fact that it’s summer and there isn’t a lot to choose from that isn’t a remake, a sequel or a comic book come to life) I decided to see “The Beguiled” last Thursday.
I went into the film with very low expectations and I have to say the film was actually better than I thought it would be. Sofia Coppola has gotten better in the fourteen years since “Lost in Translation”. She moves the camera more and she actually was able to create a sense of suspense.
I also have to give her props for creating some really beautiful shots that really make you feel like you are in the American South in the 1860s. However, there are still times where she falls short. I don’t mind subtle film-making at all, in fact I prefer it, but she still seems to (at times) think that just letting the camera sit there is directing. But considering the fact that I thought I would be bored to tears and I was actually entertained is a big step in the right direction for her. There was enough of an improvement here that I wouldn’t hesitate (as much) to see whatever her next directorial effort is.
Since Sofia Coppola got such good performances out of Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson all those years ago I figured there would be good performances in this film as well and I was correct. Colin Farrell is really good the union soldier who finds himself being cared for by a group of confederate women during the American Civil War.
I actually have seen the 1971 version of “The Beguiled” and I think that Farrell did a better job than Clint Eastwood (but let’s be honest Eastwood is a much better director than he is an actor). Nicole Kidman, Kirsten Dunst and Elle Fanning are all very good as three women in three different stages of life. It’s really interesting to see how their characters interact, behave and change when their all-female environment suddenly has a man present.
I think that people who are already fans of Sophia Coppola’s work will enjoy this film. I also think that Farrell, Kidman, Dunst and Fanning are all good enough to warrant the price of admission if you really like them. This is also a good way to support summer counter-programming but unless you are a fan of the four people I mentioned you can go ahead and skip “The Beguiled”.
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Here is a description:
Justin Gomez and his sister, Terri, have never been close. Separated by nine years and distant in adulthood, Justin and Terri have little in common, except for the love of her three children. In the days before they embark on a road trip to visit the father that once abandoned them and their now deceased mother, both Terri and Justin are dealing with unexpected changes in their lives. Justin surprisingly realizes he might want more than a series of one night stands after a first date goes unexpectedly well. After a lifetime of being a strong type A personality, Terri is forced to confront the reality of the end of her marriage. As they hit the road, with Terri’s children in tow, they find themselves forced to rely on and confide in each other following a devastating event. Confronted with memories from the past and challenges from the present, Terri and Justin must dig deep and unearth the truth about themselves and their parents in order to build a new family based on their love for each other.