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Lust and power plays in Sofia Coppola's 'The Beguiled'

the beguiled 2017 film analysis

Like most of Sofia Coppola’s films, her latest directorial effort ‘The Beguiled’ is a very careful and ballsy dissection of feminism, using a silent and restrained presentation of sexual awakening as a metaphor for power play.

Set during the events of the American civil war, a female-centric house is visited by a wounded male soldier (Colin Farrell). Being the sole man in this institution, 7 women (Nicole Kidman, Kirsten Dunst, Elle Fanning, Angourie Rice, Oona Laurence, Emma Howard, Addison Riecke) fights for his attention and affection, not knowing what it might entail. 

the beguiled 2017 film analysis

The Beguiled’ is the second film adaptation of Thomas P. Cullinan’s 1966 novel A Painted Devil. The first one, a 1971 film of the same name starring Clint Eastwood, is much more concerned with the male character. This Coppola retelling though, focuses itself on its female ensemble. It’s fascinating how the filmmaker was able to make all of them feel equally relevant and significant to the story and not limit them by their similar interests.

There is an interesting angle to how the female angle wasn’t chosen for the sake of promoting feministic viewpoints, but rather an intimate take on the different stages of Jacques Lacan’s psychosexual development, as observed on the women’s different ages. What’s more interesting here is how each individual stages are played to compete one another in exchange of a male’s acceptance. 

the beguiled 2017 film analysis

And this results to the of the male soldier’s dominion over them, despite his glorified objectification. Without getting into major plot details, we get to see the slow decay and loss of this authority by the very same reason that got him there. 

the beguiled 2017 film analysis

There’s more that can be explored with Sofia Coppola’s ‘The Beguiled.’ It is one of those films that gets to be louder during its quieter, slow moments. Arguably, this film is one of her best work in years.


'The Beguiled' is now showing in select Ayala malls cinemas (Greenbelt 1 and Trinoma). Rated R-16 by the MTRCB.

the beguiled 2017 film analysis


Photo credits: Universal Pictures



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