‘The Beguiled’. Sexual repression, deceit, jealousy, betrayal – Oh, the entertainment value of the dark side!

Sofia Coppola directs and adapts the screenplay from the Southern Gothic novel, ‘The Painted Devil’ by Thomas P. Cullinan. This is a re-envisioning of the Don Siegel 1971 film starring Clint Eastwood and Geraldine Paige.

The ensemble cast certainly has the chops. Nicole Kidman, Colin Farrell, Elle Fanning, Kirsten Dunst and Angourie Rice, turn an all girl boarding school in rural Mississippi, during the Civil War, into an education in love and horror, all the while maintaining the morality play status.

Colin Farrell plays a wounded Yankee soldier, who is found in the woods by a 12 year old girl from an elite all-girl boarding school. She brings him to the Headmistress (Nicole Kidman) who agrees to allow him to stay in the music room until he recovers. As the soldier begins to recuperate, he ignites the imaginations and libidos of the students, teachers, servants and the Headmistress. The evil-eyes and resentment are palatable, go on, Entertain me!

The Headmistress, through flashbacks, reveals that she has experienced an incestuous relationship with her brother in this same house years ago, and advances on the soldier, but is rebuffed in favor of one of the younger girls. Not smart! Not only does she become embittered and vengeful, one of the other girls is also refused. Enraged, she ties a blue rag to the school entrance to alert the Confederacy that a Yankee soldier is in hiding. Needless to say, things just keep getting more and more horrific for poor Colin. Can there be a happy ending to such a tragic story? No.

The Beguiled opens nationwide June 23.

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