The Beguiled with Nicole Kidman and Colin Farrell is at least in some ways a remake of 1971 Clint Eastwood film by the same title. The new Beguiled is Sofia Coppola’s 2017 interpretation of the Thomas Cullinan novel originally titled Painted Devil, according to the Roger Ebert website.
The Clint Eastwood movie was also based on the same Thomas Cullinan book, though at times that is hard to imagine. The new interpretation of The Beguiled with Nicole Kidman and Colin Farrell has a completely different slant. Both films suffer from the sociological differences between the period of the film and the period the book was written.
The Nicole Kidman, Colin Farrell version of The Beguiled also suffers from its 2017 attitudes sifting through onto a 1966 book written about the Civil War era. The portrayal of the 1860s through the lens of 1966 and 2017 at once, plus the memory of the 1971 Clint Eastwood film, can become problematic for more analytical viewers.
In The Beguiled John McBurney, portrayed by both Clint Eastwood and Colin Farrell, is an exhausted and wounded Union soldier discovered by a Southern all-girl school. McBurney is a deserter who fled the battle field. Somehow, this enemy combatant becomes fair game for the young Southern ladies’ pent-up desires. While The Beguiled films are starkly different, that much remains the central plot.
Nicole Kidman portrays Martha Farnsworth, who runs the all-girl school. Nicole Kidman’s Martha Farnsworth, a teacher portrayed by Kirsten Dunst, and five remaining students have sequestered themselves away as the battles rage nearby.
Clint Eastwood made The Beguiled in the same year he made Dirty Harry, and needless to say, Colin Farrell is no Clint Eastwood. Thankfully, director Sofia Coppola doesn’t ask him to be.
Colin Farrell’s Union soldier John McBurney seems to be a saccharine-sweet, smooth-talking devil compared to Clint Eastwood’s more brash and manly portrayal. Both strategies work, and both were in hindsight created out of the ideals of the time period the films were made, and the directors who made them.
Coppola’s vision for The Beguiled with Nicole Kidman and Colin Farrell is far different than the one of Don Siegel, who directed Clint Eastwood in the 1971 film. The Roger Ebert website quoted Don Siegel, who explained that The Beguiled with Clint Eastwood was about the fear of emasculating women.
“[The Beguiled 1971 film is about] the basic desire of women to castrate men.”
For Sofia Coppola, The Beguiled with Nicole Kidman and Colin Farrell is about the repression of the female sex drive.
“[Sofia Cappola] is interested in the fleeting, in things not easily said, and here she is interested in the ridiculousness of repressing the sex drive (at one point, Edwina is so turned on she almost collapses against a wall).”
The Roger Ebert website continues, explaining the vision of Coppola for The Beguiled starring Nicole Kidman and Colin Farrell.
“The interior is the female realm, where women dominate and the male lies in repose, to be gawked at and fussed over. The women are powerful and resourceful (‘Edwina, bring me the anatomy book’) but ready to tear each other apart to get to that man in the room.”
The Beguiled with Clint Eastwood is not really the same movie as The Beguiled with Nicole Kidman and Colin Farrell. It seems to be a remake in name only. So which is better? Rotten Tomatoes seems to indicate a lot more votes for the 1971 film with Clint Eastwood.
The Beguiled with Nicole Kidman and Colin Farrell received 78 percent fresh tomatoes from professional Rotten Tomatoes critics, but the audience score was a scathing 51 percent of 10,259 user ratings. Sofia Coppola’s vision seems to have lost nearly half of the audience.
Clint Eastwood’s The Beguiled received 93 percent fresh tomatoes from the Rotten Tomatoes critics, and 71 percent of 5,485 viewers liked the film.
Nicole Kidman and Colin Farrell’s The Beguiled divided the audience. The mixed audience reviews on Rotten Tomatoes seem to show that people either liked The Beguiled or absolutely hated it. Some actually walked out and many others wished they had. Gary W’s comment says well what many others are saying.
“This movie felt like a lifetime for the plot to pick up, only to realize the only time that happens is when real life resumes and I was released from the prison that was this movie.”
Clint Eastwood’s The Beguiled was occasionally called “weird” and not the typical Clint Eastwood film, but apparently both films have a slow start. Most viewers who reviewed The Beguiled on Rotten Tomatoes found the Clint Eastwood film interesting and somewhat shocking once it gets started.
RELATED REPORTS FROM THE INQUISITR
The Beguiled starring Nicole Kidman and Colin Farrell is not similar to the one with Clint Eastwood because Clint Eastwood’s The Beguiled picks up eventually.
[Featured Image by Arthur Mola and Associated Press/AP Images]