I haven’t read the novel or seen the 1971 version with Clint Eastwood, but it probably wouldn’t matter if I did. Whether based on an original story or adapted from an existing source, Sofia Coppola’s films are so distinctive they drive all thoughts of comparisons away and feel like entirely her creations. The Beguiled has Coppola’s trademark languid, atmospheric style, and shares some similarities with her previous films like The Virgin Suicides and Marie Antoinette – women cloistered away from the outside world, in a beautiful but stifling setting. There’s also a shade of Picnic at Hanging Rock, with all the imagery of young girls in their ghostly dresses.
I suffer from motion sickness and it’s a big compliment to the movie that I stuck with it till the end despite the nausea-inducing hand-held camerawork. It was like a film equivalent of driving down a winding mountain road – you get beautiful views but feel rather queasy by the end of it all. I coped by glancing away from the screen occasionally and silently praised the cameraman whenever he managed to hold the shot.