Historical dramas can go one of two ways. They can either be syrupy, melodramatic snoozefests or they can be absorbing and utterly exquisite works of art. With The Beguiled, we get something more in sync with the latter and with an absorbing story and strong performances, we have a film that goes beyond the average cinematic work and leaves an indelible impression on its viewer.
Usually, films based on acclaimed stage plays are relatively decent. Sure, they don’t capture the rawness and authenticity of a live production but normally, they’re somewhat adequate in recreating the story and adding a little pizzazz to the proceedings. With August Strindberg’s 1888 play Miss Julie, the line between theater and film is crossed with a unfortunately dull screen adaptation that features three very capable actors (Jessica Chastain, Colin Farrell and Samantha Morton), an attractive set and costumes but sadly, little else. Swedish Liv Ullmann filmmaker and actress helmed the film and with an impressive resume to her credit, it’s a shame Miss Julie wasn’t a bit better.