Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Bewitched

Brit Oscar winners, young breakout star cast delicious spell over forbidden southern teen romance

  • Print

Young love, so sorely tested by vampirism and zombification in Twilight and Warm Bodies, finds the road to romance sunnier in Beautiful Creatures, in which two teens pair up despite the fact that one of them is a witch in training.

The one-liners drawl from the lips of the South Carolina characters like Spanish moss dripping from the oaks in a script so witty it attracted Oscar winners Emma Thompson and Jeremy Irons and Oscar nominee Viola Davis in supporting roles.

Alden Ehrenreich gives a breakout performance as Ethan, a dreamer and square peg in the round hole of rural Gatlin, S.C. A high school junior who longs for the day he can escape his provincial life, he's an incessant reader -- Henry Miller, Ayn Rand, William Burroughs -- and that manifests itself in his narration and his take on his town. ("They keep re-enacting the Civil War like it's gonna come out different.")

He's jilted the pretty, but less bookish and more fundamentalist Emily (Zoey Deutch), but open to the charms of the "new girl," a raven-haired vision who appeared to him in dreams. Lena (Alice Englert) is a 15-year-old Southern Gothic Goth Girl -- dark and mysterious, an aspiring poetess with numbers tattooed on one hand and a sullen sarcasm that is catnip to Ethan.

He ignores the Mean Girl-mongering of Emily, the fear-mongering of the local fundamentalist crusader (Thompson) and the counsel of family friend Amma (Davis). Lena resists the warnings of her patrician uncle (Irons), a recluse who presides over an estate that once encompassed the whole town.

Of course they're fated to be together. And the fact that she's a witch, and that only he's supposed to know? That just doubles down on the doomed/forbidden love thing.

Veteran writer-director Richard LaGravenese (Water for Elephants, Freedom Writers) boiled the Kami Garcia-Margaret Stohl novel down to characters, sharp dialogue and a palpable sense of place.

The story arc has few surprises -- the odd flipped expectation or character in disguise. We can guess the climax in the opening scenes, and figure out the role the mysterious Amma and bombshell witch-coven cousin Ridley (Emmy Rossum, tarted up like a lingerie model) will play in that finale.

But there's something so delicious when Brits such as Thompson and Irons sink their fangs -- sorry -- into Deep South dialect. Thompson devours scenery, supporting players and dialogue with every "Bless your heart, shooo-gah" in the script, and Irons curls his non-existent moustache over every syrupy zinger.

The film bogs down in the usual attempts at reinventing witchcraft -- "We prefer the term 'casters'" -- and burdensome research the kids have to do to ensure their love isn't "doomed" after all.

Young Ms. Englert, daughter of the Australian director Jane Campion, is more girl next door than Cover Girl (i.e. Rossom and Deutch). She and Davis are tasked with giving the story pathos, but Englert's real job is to hold her own with some of the finest actors to ever "Bless your heart" on the screen. She does.

It's Ehrenreich who makes the romantic longing believable enough for us to root for these impassioned teens, even if we know what 17-year-old Ethan doesn't -- "15 will get you 20."

-- McClatchy-Tribune News Service

MOVIE REVIEW

Beautiful Creatures

McGillivray, Polo Park, St. Vital, Towne

Starring Alice Englert and Jeremy Irons

PG

124 minutes

3.5 out of five stars

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition February 14, 2013 C6

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

Chief Clunis denies link between internal sexual-harassment investigation and Tina Fontaine case

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • A baby Red Panda in her area at the Zoo. International Red Panda Day is Saturday September 15th and the Assiniboine Park Zoo will be celebrating in a big way! The Zoo is home to three red pandas - Rufus, Rouge and their cub who was born on June 30 of this year. The female cub has yet to be named and the Assiniboine Park Zoo is asking the community to help. September 14, 2012  BORIS MINKEVICH / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS
  • Hay bales sit under a rainbow just west of Winnipeg Saturday, September 3, 2011.(John Woods/Winnipeg Free Press)

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

Are you still on the Bombers' and Jets' bandwagons?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google