"The Beguiled," in its quasi-mathematical abstraction, amounts to little more than the baseline proof of [Coppola's] method-a reductio ad absurdum.
Coppola immerses us in a world of verdant outdoor beauty, hushed indoor quiet, and dutiful routine. It's a nice place to visit, but we can see in the yearning glances of the women that living there would be another matter entirely.
"The Beguiled" is a solid and at times eerily subversive piece of work, but it shows that there may be limits to Sofia Coppola's ambition and her nerve.
The Beguiled is Coppola's bloodiest, most visceral movie to date, and it is also one of her best.
Fanning, Dunst and the on-a-roll Kidman all seem ready to dive in, but "The Beguiled" stops them short. There's plenty of cunning boiling beneath the surface, but Coppola keeps a tight lid on it.
The actors pitch their roles perfectly: Kidman's breathy calm; Farrell's charm, just hinting at something dark within it; Fanning's way of prettily arranging herself, showing off Alice's newfound power; Dunst's quiet melancholy.
The story is briskly told - it's 11 minutes shorter than Siegel's version - with good performances that alternately amuse, seduce and shock.
The Beguiled works at a slow simmer and within the hothouse atmosphere painstakingly created by the filmmaker.
Another big-screen adaptation of this story probably wasn't necessary. But as unnecessary films go, it's well worth a look.