The Beguiled is a strange film; it has the look and feel of a straight laced period piece, yet the story and execution of complete schlock. Set during the Civil War, a Union solider named John McBurney (Collin Farrell) is wounded in conflict and taken in by an all girls boarding school, led by Martha Farnsworth (Nicole Kidman). With McBurney healing, tension and competition begins between the girls at the school, forcing conflict and lies to spread in a supposedly peaceful place.
The film has some interesting ideas about gender and sexuality, but for all the film’s technically pleasing marvels, it’s a rather straight forward, schlocky ride. Farrell is by far the standout, giving a charismatic performance who shifts between devious and genuine, and elevates each scene where he interacts with the larger cast. It’s enjoyable at parts and mostly well acted, but for a well shot film by a renowned director, it’s rather dull. Grade: B-