The Beguiled

Thomas P. Cullinan’s novel The Beguiled, about a wounded Union soldier being nursed by a handful of Confederate women at an otherwise abandoned finishing school, was filmed back in 1971 by Don Siegel, with Clint Eastwood as the bemused soldier. This new adaptation by Sofia Coppola unfolds from a more feminine sensibility, and like her first and best feature, The Virgin Suicides (1999), it sets out to expose the inner dynamics and frustrated sexuality of a small, mysterious cloister of women. Nicole Kidman is typically fine as the strict headmistress, who can barely control herself after giving the new guest a sponge bath, and Kirsten Dunst, another Suicides alumnus, plays the girls’ French teacher, who wants the man all to herself. With Colin Farrell and Elle Fanning.