The Beguiled (2017 film)

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The Beguiled
The Beguiled (2017 film).png
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Sofia Coppola
Produced by
  • Youree Henley
  • Sofia Coppola
Screenplay by Sofia Coppola
Based on A Painted Devil
by Thomas P. Cullinan
Music by Phoenix
Cinematography Philippe Le Sourd
Edited by Sarah Flack
Distributed by Focus Features
Release date
  • May 24, 2017 (2017-05-24) (Cannes)
  • June 23, 2017 (2017-06-23) (United States)
Running time
94 minutes[1]
Country United States
Language English
Budget $10 million[2]
Box office $27.4 million[3]

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.

It premiered on May 24 at the 2017 Cannes Film Festival,[4] and was selected to compete for the Palme d'Or in its main competition section,[5][6] where Coppola won the Best Director award, becoming only the second woman to do so.[7] The film was released theatrically on June 23, 2017, by Focus Features.


Martha Farnsworth runs a girls school in Virginia during the Civil War. By 1864, almost all of the students, teachers, and slaves have left; only five students and one teacher, Edwina Morrow, remain. 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. 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.

Initially, some of the school's residents want McBurney 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 McBurney is recovering, the women and girls fight for his affection by giving him presents, wearing jewellery, and preparing a lavish dinner for him. He returns the affection, concentrating especially 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 battle.

When Miss Farnsworth indicates that McBurney 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 teenage pupil. McBurney tries to calm Miss Morrow down, but she pushes him away, causing him to fall down the stairs and badly break his already injured leg. Miss Farnsworth decides that the only way to stop him from dying is to amputate the leg.

When he awakes the next day and realizes he has lost his leg, McBurney 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, who gets him the room key. He then breaks out, steals a gun, and threatens the women before storming off. Miss Morrow follows him to his room, where they have passionate sex.

Meanwhile Miss Farnsworth tries to find a solution. One of the students suggests killing McBurney by preparing him a dinner of poisonous mushrooms, to which Miss Farnsworth 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's suspicions are not aroused; he eats the mushrooms. Seconds later, he falls to the floor, in the throes of death. While the others are sewing McBurney's body into a shroud, Miss Morrow looks on, devastated. The film ends with the women dragging McBurney's body to the road so that he will be found by the next Confederate soldiers who pass by.



The Madewood Plantation House.

Coppola had initially expressed an aversion to a remake, but after watching the 1971 version at the urging of production designer Anne Rose, she was left contemplating ways she could update the film.[8] Specifically, she became interested in showing the story from the women's point of view, as opposed to the man's.[9] The material came to Coppola at a time when she wanted to make a more optimistic film than 2013's The Bling Ring, stating that she wanted to "cleanse myself" from what she terms was "such a tacky, ugly world".[8]

In March 2016, it was announced that Elle Fanning, Nicole Kidman, and Kirsten Dunst had been cast in the film, while Colin Farrell entered talks that July.[10][11][12] The music for the film was composed by the rock band Phoenix (whose lead singer, Thomas Mars, is married to Coppola).[13] Two popular Civil War ballads, "Lorena" and "Aura Lea", were used in the film, in addition to Stephen Foster's "Virginia Belle".[14] Most of the costumes in the film were designed by Stacey Battat, who used the costume and fabric archives of the Metropolitan Museum of Art to gain inspiration for contemporary fashion.[15] Corsets were made for each actress, while for historical accuracy only cotton fabric was used, which was in turn either stone washed or enzyme washed to weather the fabrics and make them look worn in.[15]


Principal photography began on October 31, 2016 and concluded on December 7, 2016.[16][17] Exterior scenes were shot on the grounds of the Madewood Plantation House, near Napoleonville, Louisiana.[18] Interiors were filmed in actress Jennifer Coolidge's house in New Orleans.[19]


The film had its world premiere at the 2017 Cannes Film Festival;[20] Coppola won the Best Director Award,[21] making her the second woman to ever win in that category, 56 years after the first female director won.[22][1] The film began a limited release on June 23, 2017, before expanding to a wide release on June 30, 2017.[23]

Box office[edit]

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.[3]

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.[24] In its wide opening, it made $3.2 million from 674 theaters (an average of $4,694), finishing 8th at the box office.[25]

Critical reception[edit]

On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 78% based on 272 reviews, with an average rating of 7.2/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "The Beguiled adds just enough extra depth to its source material to set itself apart, and director Sofia Coppola's restrained touch is enlivened by strong performances from the cast."[26] On Metacritic, the film has a score of 77 out of 100, based on 45 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[27]

David Ehrlich of IndieWire gave the film an "A−", saying, "Coppola's film is told with surgical precision and savage grace."[28] Todd McCarthy of The Hollywood Reporter stated: "Other than to place slightly more emphasis on the female empowerment's hard to detect a strong raison d'etre behind Sofia Coppola's slow-to-develop melodrama."[29]

Allegations of whitewashing[edit]

The 1966 novel had a black female slave as a supporting character, whom director Sofia Coppola removed from the film, and for a biracial character from the novel, she cast white actress Kirsten Dunst. The Guardian said Coppola was criticized for engaging in whitewashing, to which the director said she made the changes so as "not [to] brush over such an important topic in a light way," and that "[y]oung girls watch my films and this was not the depiction of an African American character I would want to show them."[30]


  1. ^ a b "2017 Screenings Guide" (PDF). Cannes Film Festival. Retrieved May 11, 2017. 
  2. ^ Thompson, Anne (May 23, 2017). "With 'The Beguiled,' Sofia Coppola Seeks Cannes Redemption with a Southern-Gothic Remake". Retrieved May 23, 2017. 
  3. ^ a b "The Beguiled (2017)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved October 31, 2017. 
  4. ^ Orlova-Alvarez, Tamara; Alvarez, Joe (25 May 2017). "Nicole Kidman at The Beguiled World Premiere in Cannes". Ikon London Magazine. Retrieved 23 February 2018. 
  5. ^ "The 2017 Official Selection". Cannes. April 13, 2017. Retrieved April 13, 2017. 
  6. ^ "2017 Cannes Film Festival Announces Lineup: Todd Haynes, Sofia Coppola, 'Twin Peaks' and More". IndieWire. April 13, 2017. Retrieved April 13, 2017. 
  7. ^ Debruge, Peter (May 28, 2017). "2017 Cannes Film Festival Award Winners Announced". Variety. 
  8. ^ a b Sollosi, Mary. "The Beguiled: Sofia Coppola on how she made the remake her own". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 23 June 2017. 
  9. ^ Lopez, Kristen. "IN CONVERSATION WITH SOFIA COPPOLA". Film School Rejects. Retrieved 27 June 2017. 
  10. ^ Kroll, Justin (March 29, 2016). "Sofia Coppola to Write, Direct Remake of Clint Eastwood Drama 'The Beguiled'". Variety. Retrieved October 31, 2016. 
  11. ^ Gettell, Oliver (March 29, 2016). "Sofia Coppola to remake Southern Gothic drama The Beguiled for Focus". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved October 31, 2016. 
  12. ^ Kroll, Justin (July 14, 2016). "Colin Farrell In Talks to Star in Sofia Coppola's 'Beguiled' Remake (EXCLUSIVE)". Variety. Retrieved October 31, 2016. 
  13. ^ Erbland, Kate (May 10, 2017). "'The Beguiled': French Rockers Phoenix Providing Score for Sofia Coppola's Latest Period Piece". Retrieved May 14, 2017. 
  14. ^ "The Beguiled Soundtrack". 2017-06-30. Retrieved 2017-11-29. 
  15. ^ a b Booth Moore (2017-06-15). "The Story Behind the Sweet (and Sinister) Costumes in Sofia Coppola's 'The Beguiled'". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 2017-11-29. 
  16. ^ Fanning, Elle (October 31, 2016). "#thebeguiledmovie began filming today... Happy Halloween!". Retrieved October 31, 2016. 
  17. ^ Calvaro, Liz (December 8, 2016). "'The Beguiled': Kirsten Dunst Shares Photo With Elle Fanning From Last Day on Sofia Coppola's Set". Retrieved December 8, 2016. 
  18. ^ Halberg, Morgan (June 29, 2017). "'The Beguiled' House Is Actually a Charming Bed and Breakfast". The New York Observer. Retrieved July 8, 2017. 
  19. ^ Buchanan, Kyle (June 14, 2017). "How Sofia Coppola Reclaimed The Beguiled for Women (and Gay Men)". Vulture. Retrieved July 9, 2017. 
  20. ^ Orlova-Alvarez, Tamara; Alvarez, Joe (25 May 2017). "Nicole Kidman at The Beguiled World Premiere in Cannes". Ikon London Magazine. Retrieved 23 February 2018. 
  21. ^ Orlova-Alvarez, Tamara; Alvarez, Joe (29 May 2017). "All the Awards at the 70th Cannes Film Festival". Ikon London Magazine. Retrieved 23 February 2018. 
  22. ^ Tartaglione, Nancy; Evans, Greg (April 13, 2017). "Cannes Lineup: Todd Haynes, Sofia Coppola, Noah Baumbach, 'Twin Peaks'". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved April 13, 2017. 
  23. ^ Kay, Jermey (November 2, 2016). "Focus to release 'The Beguiled' in June 2017". Screen International. Retrieved November 2, 2016. 
  24. ^ "Why 'Transformers' Is Screaming For Reboot After $69M Start; 'Wonder Woman' & 'Cars 3' Fight Over 2nd Place". Deadline Hollywood. June 25, 2017. 
  25. ^ "'Despicable Me 3' Now At $75M+; 'Baby Driver' Booms To $30M As 'The House' Goes Broke With $9M – July 4th Weekend B.O." Deadline Hollywood. July 2, 2017. 
  26. ^ "The Beguiled (2017)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved August 12, 2017. 
  27. ^ "The Beguiled Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved July 13, 2017. 
  28. ^ Ehrlich, David (May 24, 2017). "'The Beguiled' Review: Nicole Kidman and Kirsten Dunst Subvert Male Fantasies in Sofia Coppola's Sensational Southern Potboiler". Retrieved May 26, 2017. 
  29. ^ McCarthy, Todd (May 24, 2017). "'The Beguiled': Film Review". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved May 26, 2017. 
  30. ^ Lodge, Guy (July 2, 2017). "Sofia Coppola: 'I never felt I had to fit into the majority view'". The Guardian. Retrieved July 3, 2017. 

External links[edit]