This isn’t my usual style of film, but I have invested in a cinema pass so I am making sure that I make good use of it. I’d seen the trailer a few times and this looked like it could be an interesting watch. Sadly I think they showed all the best bits in the trailer.
Now I know I would usually walk through the plot, but honestly I can’t bring myself to go through this slow moving plot line again, so I’ll give the abridged version.
The premise is that it’s 1864 during the civil war, most of the slaves have left and all the men are at war leaving women holding the forts and just trying to get by. Ms. Farnsworth has previously run a school for girls and she has been left with one teacher and a handful of students in her care as they are safer with her than at home.
One day one of the students finds a union army corporal with a badly injured leg and she takes him back to the school. From here there is a lot of will he be handed in, no, we should fix him up and let him heal first. So they stitch his leg up and let him stay in the music room.
As his leg heals all the women fight for his attention in differing ways, the younger girls looking for some form of father figure as they want acceptance from him while the older girls and women are attracted to him. They all start to behave in more alluring ways, wearing jewellery, making good food and playing him music.
As his leg heals, he starts to work the women, displaying is affections mostlay to Edwina Morrow, the teacher and it peaks with him asking to visit her in her room. When he doesn’t arrive and she hers odd noises from another room, she goes to investigate and finds him getting frisky with one of the teenage girls. He starts to try and calm Edwina down, but she ends up pushing him down the stairs. Breaking his already injured leg. Ms. Farnsworth decides the best thing to do is cut it off.
When he wakes he goes crazy, thinking they have cut his leg off out of spite rather than necessity, and they lock him in the music room. He forcefully tells the teenager to steal him a key and he breaks out of the room threatening everyone.
Edwina, for no godly reason decides she would still like to be with him and joins him in the music room where they have “passionate” (although it just looked awkward to me) sex.
The rest of the girls are scared with no one to protect them but themselves and they formulate a plan.
They cook him dinner with a special dish just for him….some death cap mushrooms. Edwina is unaware of the plan and as he eats the mushrooms, he ends up keeling over at the table and dying in front of Edwina.
The final shot is the girls stitching him in to a shroud and then dumping the body out at the front gates for the soldiers to pick up on their weekly pass.
The cinematography of this piece was beautiful. Considering it was only really in the house or in the garden/woods, there was beautiful imagery, and clearly a lot of thought was put in to this by Sofia Coppola. The costumes were in keeping with the time and reminded me of how elegant women used to be.
I was expecting a bit more sex to be perfectly honest. I thought that more rivalry between the girls would form as they have been without male company for so long.
The feeling of isolation and loneliness is portrayed well, although Coppola has come under fire for not highlighting the lack of slavery. Her response was that she wanted the film to focus on issues which are still relevant today… well now I know if I find a guy in the woods with a bashed up leg, I will know not to share him with other women…also I don’t know if I would be able to cut off a leg, so he would probably just lie bleeding at the bottom of my stairs.
All in all, this isn’t terrible, but it is very slow with only short sharp bursts of action indispersed with a lot of giggling and fannying about.
If you like period drama, I am sure this will be right up your street.