Sofia Coppola’s remake of the 1971 thriller of the same name is one of those movies that’s well acted and well shot, but ultimately never convinces the audience that its story is worth telling. Led by a typically cold, humorless performance by Nicole Kidman, the movie finds Union soldier Colin Farrell stranded at a Confederate girls’ boarding school in the South during the Civil War, and the various jealousies and betrayals that erupt among the women make up the majority of the plot. It’s a regressive setup that depends on sexist portrayals of women and girls as inherently duplicitous, and without a single well-developed or likable character along the way, the movie quickly becomes a bore as stifling as the Southern heat itself. The second half should be a rising thriller, as Farrell gradually gets better and starts pitting the women against each other, but instead it’s a glacially paced cure for insomnia on the way to an underwhelming final act. You can see the cast doing its best to rise above the mediocrity of the material, but it’s all for naught because none of them have much to work with.
Rating: ★★ (out of 5)