Saturday, July 08, 2017

The Virgin Homicides

I've been seriously obsessed with Marie Antoinette (2006, Sofia Coppola) for a couple of years now, after picking up a French forced-subtitled Blu-ray at a record store. For years after that movie had come out I thought I'd never have any interest in it. But somehow I opened up to it and the music finally expressed so much that I'd become intoxicated with emotion.

I'm still hooked on Marie Antoionette's scenes with 80s new wave from the opening Devo, to Siouxsie and the Banshees, Bow Wow Wow, and especially New Order (I actually got into a New Order phase in '06 because of the Marie Antoinette trailer). That movie is constructed with nothing but emotion.

There is no music in The Beguiled (2017, Coppola). There is no color. In Civil War Virginia amid light bird chirping and not too distant mortar blasts, located in the woods, Miss Farnsworth's Seminary for Young Ladies is where the tautly paced Southern Gothic chamber drama The Beguiled occurs.

CORPORAL JOHN MCBURNEY (Colin Farrell) spends the first hour sharing the best of times with the little women. As McBurney's time is about to run out, it's time for him to decide if he's going to fuck Nicole Kidman, Kirsten Dunst, or Elle Fanning. The Beguiled is like The Three Little Pigs with McBurney poised to decide if he'll choose the older refined beauty who has shared a brandy with him one night; or, the romantic young woman whom he's connected with emotionally; or, the teen Baby Doll who's snuck away to come and made out with him one night and doesn't talk much.

The night all the ladies dress up and serve apple pie after dinner, with the fever pitch wanton allure of the 3 little women too impossible to resist, McBurney goes to bed with...

The last 25 minutes are an entirely different world. What has changed? Sex. The Beguiled is about how this isolated community of women are able to function before McBurney, and with him up until one of them has sex with him. And they will function after he is gone. That's the best part of the ending, it's like a reverse denouement.

Framed at 1.66 on 35mm with mostly static shots, The Beguiled is a classic Hollywood prestige costume picture with stars, full of sex, violence, and scintillating pulpy drama. Coppola's blond girl cult in the forest aesthetic proves one of her most charming longest-lasting strengths. And The Beguiled succeeds as one of Coppola's best experiments with art in film.

Kidman's MARTHA in black and white blouses and accents is so cool, and really so much in The Beguiled is intensely evoked without words. Like the moment Martha gives McBurney the spongebath and there's that 70s Warhol porn torso insert. Dunst as EDWINA when she has that private breakdown collapsing horny against the wall is bold. Elle's ALICIA is so awesome in the scene where she pops in and out of McBurney's bedroom with that curtsy Coppola inline-cuts to as she exits. But really all three of the lead actresses do so much and bring so much to The Beguiled.

Maybe it's cause this is my kind of subject matter. Maybe it's because it's a woman's picture. Maybe it's because I love Sofia Coppola. But The Beguiled may be the most satisfying Hollywood movie I've seen so far 2017.

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