It’s 1864 Virginia and young Amy is out picking mushrooms when she encounters a wounded Union soldier. She takes him back to her boarding school where a small group of girls engage in daily lessons as they remain isolated from the war going on around them. As Corporal McBurney recovers, the older women, and the headmistress, Miss Martha, become attracted to their new guest. As the tension between them rises, events unfold to a shocking climax.
2017, Color, Rated R, 1 Hr 33 mins
DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, 1.66:1 Aspect Ratio
Starring: Nicole Kidman, Kirsten Dunst, Elle Fanning, Colin Farrell
Directed by Sofia Coppola
The synopsis printed on the Blu-ray case promises an “atmospheric thriller”, using words like “seduction” and “sexual tension”. In practice, the film fails on that promise. Suspense is minimal, there are no unexpected turns in the plot, and there are definitely no thrills. The backdrop is well-executed and the setting is ideal for the story’s concept.
But a wooden script and underwhelming performances by the actors bring this movie short of the mark. I never saw any evidence that Corporal McBurney was seducing anyone until he suddenly professes his love for one of the girls with no build-up or foreshadow. By the time something actually happens, an hour has passed. Fortunately, the entire thing is over in around 90 minutes because it is far closer to a short subject than a feature film. There is good potential here that is simply not realized.
The image is very dark and murky throughout. Interior scenes are lit solely by filtered sunlight or candles. If there is detail in the image, I couldn’t see it through the haze. Color occasionally appears as warm tones in the actor’s faces but contrast is flat. I also found the 1.66:1 aspect ratio to be an odd choice as it did nothing to enhance the presentation.
Audio is clean and clear but nothing special. Ambient effects are used reasonably well and dialog is always easy to understand. Music is quite sparing which is a shame because it might have heightened the viewer’s anticipation a bit more.
Bonus features total only 12 minutes and include perspectives on the story and its adaptation to the screen along with information on costumes and production design.