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.

Secret In Their Eyes

3 Stars

A promising thriller with a B-grade ending.

The best thrillers keep us guessing and intrigued up until the end when the full story is revealed and everything slots perfectly into place. The story is so carefully crafted that you are left stunned at the final outcome. Then there’s the less than perfect ones. Sure, they can be just as entertaining and leave you eager for the ending – but then it comes and you realise the only reason why you would never have guessed it is because it’s so absurd. Yep, Secret In Their Eyes is one of those…

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In the aftermath of 9/11, a team of investigators including Ray Casten (Chiwetel Ejiofor), Claire Sloane (Nicole Kidman) and Jessica Cobb (Julia Roberts) are working for the counter-terrorism unit of the FBI. When Jessica’s daughter Carolyn (Zoe Graham) is found in a dumpster, Ray takes it upon himself to investigate.

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The story is based upon an Argentinian novel from 2005, and has been written by the film’s director, Billy Ray. The novel was initially made into a Spanish-speaking film similarly titled ‘The Secret In Their Eyes’ in 2009. The 2009 film is a full 2 stars ahead of this version on IMDB, so you’d probably be better off checking out the original instead.

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I can see why they needed such a strong cast (Both Kidman and Roberts are Oscar-winners, Ejofor has been nominated) to play these characters, but I am surprised that each of them accepted after reading the closing pages of the script. You can’t help but feel a bit embarrassed for them.

Secret In Their Eyes is in fact decent viewing up until the disappointing finale, so I had to rank it a little higher than average considering the overall experience. The film premieres in Sweden on March 18.