The Beguiled

Movie review by
Jeffrey M. Anderson, Common Sense Media
The Beguiled Movie Poster Image
Sofia Coppola's Civil War drama is powerful, primal.
  • R
  • 2017
  • 94 minutes

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Kids say

age 14+
Based on 1 review

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Though the movie begins with an act of kindness (perhaps even heroism), it slowly degenerates into the worst of human behavior. Some pay a price, and others don't

Positive Role Models & Representations

You could argue that the youngest girl is heroic for saving the life of the wounded soldier, and characters do occasionally perform small good deeds, but eventually everyone joins in on the poor behavior. On the plus side, the film does paint women as three-dimensional people with their own wants and desires.


Bloody, gory wounds. Blood spatters on clothes. A man falls down the stairs. Broken leg. Amputated leg. Bullet extraction. Screaming in pain. Raging anger. A man grabs a woman's hair angrily. Reference to castration. A pet turtle is thrown across  the room. Bottle-smashing. Guns; a chandelier is shot at, and it falls and crashes to the floor. Booming sound of gunfire. A character is poisoned.


Graphic sex scene includes thrusting; clothes cover sensitive body parts. Another brief sex scene in which a man and a woman are caught and interrupted. Kissing. A man gets a sponge bath; a woman carefully cleans his groin area under a towel. Sexual tension.


One use of "bitches" and "goddamn."

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

A main character drinks a lot of brandy, getting raging drunk in one scene. Other scenes of social drinking.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Beguiled is director Sofia Coppola's poetic remake of a 1971 Clint Eastwood movie based on the novel by Thomas Cullinan. It's a Civil War drama that tells the story of a wounded Union soldier who's taken in by all-girls school. Though there's no graphic nudity, viewers will see two sex scenes, one of which has a rough feel and includes thrusting. There's also some kissing, a suggestive sponge bath, and general sexual tension. Bloody wounds are shown, plus blood spatters, a gory broken leg, and a leg being amputated. A man screams in pain, rages with anger, and grabs a woman's hair. Guns are heard booming in the distance throughout the movie, and a character shoots at a chandelier, crashing it to the floor. A character is poisoned. Language is minimal; the word "bitches" is used once. The main male character gets staggering drunk, and there's some social drinking.

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Kid, 12 years old August 13, 2017

The Beguiled - Review

I've never seen the original, but I thought it was good. It's got great acting from an all-star cast, excellent directing and cinematography, and a ch... Continue reading

What's the story?

In THE BEGUILED, a Southern all-girls school is still operating as the American Civil War rages. One of the younger girls goes out picking mushrooms in the woods and comes upon a wounded Union soldier by the name of John McBurney (Colin Farrell) and brings him back to the schoolhouse. Headmistress Martha Farnsworth (Nicole Kidman) treats his wounds but doesn't want to keep him there any longer than necessary. Meanwhile, teacher Edwina Dabney (Kirsten Dunst) and one of the older students, Alicia (Elle Fanning), are drawn to him. McBurney starts charming each of the women in different ways, perhaps in an effort to preserve his own life -- or perhaps to exert power over the house. Unfortunately, when he gives in to desire one night, it sets off a series of disastrous consequences.

Is it any good?

Plotwise, director Sofia Coppola doesn't change much from Clint Eastwood's 1971 take on novelist Thomas Cullinan's story, but moodwise, she gives it her own special, dreamy-thoughtful visual style. Her version of The Beguiled excises a black female slave character who was in the original film, as well as some disturbing flashback sequences; it's none the worse for these changes. With the focus squarely on the battle taking place in the movie's present between the sexes in the house, Coppola allows room for poetic subtleties.

She gets to a primal, physical place with her exquisite, commanding use of sound and place. The natural world -- including the light from windows and the crunch of dry leaves -- is all around. (It's no mistake that things of the Earth, a turtle and mushrooms, represent major turning points.) It brings the characters to an organic state in which feelings are stronger than reasoning. Pinned up in their period costumes or laid up in bed, they carry the appearance of civilized humanity, but their wants and desires rule underneath the surface.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about The Beguiled's violence. How intense is it? What makes it feel that way? The sound? Visuals? What's the impact of media violence on kids?

  • How is sex portrayed? Is it part of a loving relationship? Parents, talk to your teens about your own values on this topic.

  • How is drinking portrayed? Why do you think the main character chooses to drink? Are there consequences for his choices?

  • What is a "battle of the sexes"? What are they fighting over? Why can't they get along?

  • If you've seen Eastwood's original movie, how does this one compare? What about to Thomas Cullinan's novel?

Movie details

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