The Beguiled

3 Stars

Textbook drama that writes out cheques its charm can’t cash.

It’s rare to see a film which can rely so heavily on mood and subtlty that it needs little else to appeal. Case in point was Lost In Translation, also directed by Sofia Coppola. What it lacked in storyline and dialogue it made up for in pure ambience. Even though The Beguiled does have a certain level of charm, it’s not in the realms of its predecessor so it ends up falling a bit flat.

Wounded soldier Corporal McBurney (Colin Farrell) is found in the woods and brought to the local girls school, headed up by Miss Martha (Nicole Kidman). His presence starts to affect those around him, including teacher Edwina (Kirsten Dunst) and the …. student Alicia (Elle Fanning).

It’s actually an adaptation of a novel from 1966, and has already been made into a film in 1971, starring Clint Eastwood.

The film is undoubtedly pretty to look at, with great attention to detail, and I gave extra marks for this aspect. I was reminded of Picnic at Hanging Rock, which Coppola may have been inspired by. But the story is a bit too straightforward and simple to really get excited about. I had hoped for more intrigue and suspense.

The Beguiled premieres in Sweden on 1 September 2017.

Knight of Cups

3.5 Stars

Like sleepwalking through LA and Vegas for 2 hours.

Knight of Cups is to Los Angeles as Lost in Translation is to Tokyo, albeit far more dreamy and artsy. In fact, the entire film is shot as a dream sequence.

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Rick (Christian Bale), is a Hollywood writer who is trying to find himself. He ponders on memories of his life and romances (played by Natalie Portman, Freida Pinto and Cate Blanchett, amongst others) as well as the relationship with his father (Brian Dennehy) and brother (Wes Bentley).

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It has to be said, Knight of Cups is not for everyone. It’s more like an art piece than a movie’s movie. You wouldn’t watch this with popcorn, you’d watch it with dark chocolate and coffee. Ironically, you’d probably need the caffeine in order to stay awake! Due to the dreamlike nature of the way everything is shot, it’s more than a little relaxing. If you’ve seen Enter The Void, you have some idea of what I mean, although this is even calmer. Granted, it’s a little slow in parts and maybe dare I say it, boring. Strangely, there is enough interest and appeal overall to ride out the duller moments.

The acting needed to be flawless for this to work as it should, and you can’t really go wrong with such a strong cast. Even the lesser known actresses who play Rick’s other love interests are very natural and true to life.

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Don’t expect any intricate plotlines, this is much more about the atmosphere and experience than the story. There has been great care placed in making it a real treat for the senses. That’s the hidden gem about this film; it’s almost as if it helps you to appreciate life in a new way. I admit I probably enjoyed it more than most people would, seeing as LA is one of my favourite places in the world. I can imagine it would be nice to have on in the background at home on a lazy Saturday afternoon.

Knight of Cups premieres in Sweden on 1 April.