‘The Beguiled’: Nicole Kidman shines in Sofia Coppola remake of Clint Eastwood classic

Nicole Kidman has been on a roll as of late and her newest film, ‘The Beguiled,” could well earn her another Oscar nomination. This remake of the 1971 Clint Eastwood classic Western was written and directed by Hollywood scion Sofia Coppola. After a much-buzzed about screening at Cannes, Coppola became only the second woman to win Best Director from that filmfest. She took home the Original Screenplay Oscar in 2003 for “Lost in Translation,” and became one of only four women ever to contend for Best Director.

“The Beguiled” features two actress who have worked with Coppola in the past — Kirsten Dunst (“The Virgin Suicides,” “Marie Antoinette”) and Elle Fanning (“Somewhere”) — as well as Colin Farrell who is also enjoying a career renaissance. Indeed, he and Kidman co-star in another hot title this year, “The Killing of a Sacred Deer.” That dark comedy reunites Farrell with Efthymis Filippou and
Yorgos Lanthimos, the Oscar-nominated creators of “The Lobster.”

“The Beguiled” is set during the Civil War, when a girls’ school in Virginia run by Martha Farnsworth (Kidman) takes in wounded Union soldier John McBurney (Farrell). But tensions arise quickly when it appears that the soldier has designs on a young woman at the school, Edwina Dabney (Dunst). Betrayal and revenge soon follow.

Many of the rave reviews have made special mention of Kidman, who earned her fourth Oscar nomination last year for her supporting turn in the Best Picture nominee “Lion.” In “The Beguiled,” she takes on a role played by eight-time Oscar nominee Geraldine Page.

A.O. Scott (New York Times): “Most effectively, though — and largely thanks to Ms. Kidman’s regal, witty performance — it’s a comedy, a country-house farce about the problems caused by an inconvenient guest.”

Justin Chang (Los Angeles Times): “Not to be counted out is Miss Martha, whose stern sense of propriety is undergirded with glimmers of warmth and mischief in Kidman’s delicious performance. The movie’s most memorable scene finds her bathing McBurney as he sleeps, her scrubbing motions becoming vaguer and more hesitant the further south she goes.”

Stephanie Zacharek (Time): “The school’s owner and headmistress, Martha Farnsworth (Nicole Kidman, in a performance pitched deftly between ice and fire), is dismayed when she sees this hobbling man heading toward the school. ”

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