Overall: This film was a slow-moving beast that was ultimately unsatisfying.
With a cast consisting of Nicole Kidman (as Miss Martha), Colin Farrell (as Corporal McBurney), Kirsten Dunst (as Edwina), Elle Fanning (as Alicia) and Oona Laurence (as Amy) and being directed by a Sofia Coppola, you’d hope to see a strong interesting film.
However, I was bored through most of it as it languished in the dark moody scenes both inside and outside the home where the girls lived.
The basic story is that Miss Martha runs a girls home and school in her large southern styled columned mansion. The civil war is going on around her home, but she does her best to keep the home going and girls shielded from the outside strife. One day, when Amy is collecting mushrooms, she finds an injured Corporal McBurney. Carrying him back to the home Martha puts him in a locked room and fixes his wound. His presence changes the tone of the home because the girls start discussing him and do little things to get noticed by him.
The film takes forever to move the story along and finally the corporal shows his lusty stripes by sweet talking Martha, tells Edwina to run away with him, and gets caught in Alicia’s bed by Edwina. As the corporal attempts to calm Edwina down she pushes him down the stairs and reopens his leg wound.
Martha determines she has to cut it leg off. When McBurney wakes up to find his leg missing he freaks out and goes on a rampage. Using guile and pressure on Alicia, gets out of the locked room and takes control of the home by using Martha’s gun.
Martha and the girls decide they must do something to protect themselves and find a way to get rid of the corporal.
Kidman was good as the head of the home. However, the script and direction let her down. Farrell was good as Corporal McBurney but the story let the audience down as to how he ended up in the woods and as to what his motivation was for seducing all the women. Dunst was strong as the pretty and dour Edwina but I wondered why McBurney selected her as the one he wanted to love and run away with. It didn’t make much sense. Fanning was very good as the young girl wanting to be an adult and experience more in life. Laurence was excellent as the young Amy whose kind compassionate heart was put to the test. Albert Maltz wrote an uninteresting script from a very interesting novel. Coppola had a vision but it was an uninteresting one and the result lacked reason and engagement unlike one of her other efforts “Lost in Translation.”
Overall: This film was painful to watch as the two women sitting down the aisle would attest to by their comments while the film played on.