In the distance, you could hear the roaring of the cannon balls striking the enemy on the other side. The white two story colonial house stood in perfect condition, it was occupied by 2 women, 1 teenager and 4 young girls. Only the yard needed some tending to but the women were busy enough tending to their garden to survive.
I’m sure the thought of soldiers dying crossed all of their minds each time the cannon balls exploded. The American Civil War in 1864 between the South and the North. An internal battle within one nation under God, indivisible with Liberty and Justice for all as it finally came to be.
Little Amy was only 12, humming a tune to herself while she carefully picked the wild mushrooms for supper that night. This day was supposed to be no different than any other day as far as Amy was concerned. The ladies and girls had finally become accustomed to the violent brawl between the South and the North. Ms. Edwina was teaching the girls French, the importance of the proper pronunciation and enunciation for each word with a slight lilt.
Amy bent down to pick more mushrooms when she heard the leaves rustle and the groaning of an injured man who was trying to prop himself up against an old tree trunk. Amy screamed and he was startled as well. Her tiny demeanor standing there looking at him; wounded; maybe half dying.
Amy was a brave child and she was taught to be a good Christian. He asked Amy for her help to lift him. When he finally stood he hopped with Amy’s help taking him back to the white house.
By the time they reached the white house, the wounded soldier was exhausted and lost quite a bit of blood and fainted next to the front porch. They all came out to stare down at the wounded unconscious soldier. Ms. Martha played by Nicole Kidman asked the girls and Ms. Edwina played by Kirsten Dunst to help her lift him into the house to tend to his wound. Ms. Martha asked for scissors, torn sheets, hot water, needle and thread. The wound was very deep. She stitched him, poured whisky on the wound and then proceeded to give him a sponge bath to prevent infection.
Corporal John McBernie was a Yankee; the enemy. He was beside himself and so grateful to Ms. Martha for helping him and probably saving his life. Quite gentlemanly he remembered Amy and thanked her as well.
One by one he was introduced to the other girls and it was apparent he was taken by Ms. Edwina’s quiet temperament and beauty. A sign that he was healing and remembering he was a man first before he became a soldier. Returning to some semblance of what life was before the war. As quickly as he could, before completely healing he started to clean and prune the overgrown bushes and roses. He worked very hard to return his appreciation to all women in the house for saving his life.
This one man, this one soldier affected all the women and girls in the white house. Worn cotton matronly pleated dresses showing no skin except for the face and hands. But everyone started wearing something special, maybe a new ribbon in their hair, a new antique pin handed down from generations and of course new and bright smiles from all the ladies.
Ms. Edwina had noticed the Corporal’s admiration for her and she was just as curious and attracted to the soldier. Alicia, the oldest teenager played by Elle Fanning already kept a secret from all of them. When the Corporal was unconscious she had unlocked his door and kissed his lips twice. Had this helped the Corporal to recover sooner, it might have been a kiss that was not wasted. Certainly, not for Alicia and she would have offered him more had he been conscience.
There was a special dinner prepared for the Corporal. The cotton dresses changed to silk and lace with an added necklace and earrings and a hint of rose water and more skin exposed for the Corporal’s admiration. Exposed was Ms. Edwina’s long delicate neck and her shoulders in a long silk off the shoulders aqua blue formal ball dress. The softest of skin touched by a man’s lips usually did the trick, that is, if the woman accepts the advances of a young handsome soldier.
After dinner one of the girls was asked to play the piano while another sang a soft mellifluous piece. There were three woman competing for the Corporal’s attention. Ms. Margaret shared a private brandy and conversation with Corporal John McBernie. Ms. Edwina was quite aware that the Corporal only seem to have eyes and his intentions for her.
That night after everyone said goodnight and went to bed the Corporal’s desires wanted only one woman. He seemed genuinely mature in his first choice to be with a woman.
Alone in her bedroom Ms. Edwina let her hair down. Slowly she brushed her long golden loose and wavy hair. She went to her drawer and had saved a special nightgown, maybe for her wedding night. She unwrapped the delicate paper. It was a sheer night gown she would wear for this night.
The Corporal waited and when the time came he opened his bedroom door onto the veranda and entered in her room. He lay next to her desiring all that she wanted to offer him. The door opened and Ms. Edwina was horrified to see the Corporal laying next to Alicia. She screamed and cried. He shouted “Edwina” and jumped out of bed to grab her arms and she started to resist him and she pushed him away as hard as she could and on his bad leg the Corporal lost his balance and fell down a flight of stairs till he hit the bottom of the expanded foyer.
Everyone came out and Ms Martha saw the Corporal on the floor with his wounded leg broken; even the bone protruded from his strong virile body.
Once again he was at the mercy of these women and once again all seven lifted his body unto the bed and this time there was no other choice but to amputate the leg where the bone was sticking out.
When he woke up the Corporal was emotionally disgusted and in shock to find his leg was missing. In a tirade screaming from the top of his lungs at the women “Look what you did to my leg. Look at what you did to me you hateful bitches. I’d rather die then live like this.” The women and the girls were in the living room listening and frightened by his rage as he broke and destroyed all he could in that room. This went on for days and they kept him locked up in his room.
Corporal John had finally become the enemy in their house. He wasn’t grateful this time, but hateful to the women of southern charm and proper etiquette.
What happens next, is the only choice these seven women could do, to relieve and rid themselves out of a bad situation. But Ms Edwina forgave Corporal John and showed and demonstrated to him her absolute forgiveness.
The finest performance came from Kirsten Dunst. Grown into a full woman in the character she played. I was captured by her performance as Ms. Edwina. Quiet, soft spoken, reserved and mysterious. There was a lot going on Ms Edwina’s mind. It’s almost as if she didn’t belong there but teaching gave her, her life’s purpose. But only filled part of her life the rest was empty and she was dying to mean something to someone.
I would recommend this movie to everyone. If you’re in the mood for some hospitable southern charm with an interesting twist, then this might be a nice Sunday afternoon to go to the movies. ??Two thumbs up! ~ Natalie