The Beguiled

LetterboxD review link

The Beguiled is one of Coppola’s best films, definitely up there with The Virgin Suicides (in fact, I wondered how much better that film would’ve been with Elle Fanning in the cast, she seems like a perfect fit for that story). Marie Antoinette, with its pop-sugar aesthetic and use of music, was a fun outing, but it lacked some of the gravitas that makes Beguiled and Suicides succeed. In much the same way that Kelly Reichardt and Michelle Williams seem to gel together on and off screen, it seems Coppola and Kirsten Dunst bring out the best in each other.

Beguiled should come with a trigger warning. For people, especially women, who have lived with violent men, there are some particularly realistic depictions of how women and families manage violent men in their homes. Coppola manages the tone of this so perfectly - never overplaying the action or underplaying the terror - it was probably my favorite part of this film. And the scariest. Juxtaposed against the beautiful costume and set design and incredible photography of the bellum South, this film sailed off the screen and into my psyche.

The lessons of this film are many, including the treatment of domestic violence, but another that struck me was about being careful with hospitality and respectability. Violence can lurk under the surface of even the most pleasant people. Social grace is only a thin lace glove over the harmful hand of violence and pain.