Beautiful Creatures

Director: Richard LaGravenese

Starring: Alice Englert, Aiden Ehrenreich, Jeremy Irons, Viola Davis, Emma Thompson, Emmy Rossum

Written by: Richard LaGravenese, (novel) Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl

Running Time: 124 mins

Cert: 12A

Release date: 13th February 2013

I openly admit to going into Beautiful Creatures with great trepidation. Now that Twilight has turned its lights off for good, there needed to be another teenage girlies angst-ridden supernatural love story. Cue: Witches! You can understand why I wasn’t sure when going in. I shouldn’t have been. This was much more fun than it should have ever been, thanks to two very likeable leads, a script that is occasionally very witty and a couple of absolute screen munching supporting performances.

Ethan Wate is a young man who loves books in a town heavily religious and who will never leave. he’s been having dreams about a mysterious dark haired girl. Lo and behold, a new girl comes to town who fits that bill. A relation to the reclusive land owner, Macon Ravenwood, Lena is 15-years-old and heading for a life changing 16th birthday. She is a witch and as the pair slowly fall in love, she discovers the change would mean she is either a good witch or a bad one, like her mother, Sarafine.

I’m really not giving away anything when I say it’s about witches because the trailer tells you all that too. What I can say, is that while you can see this is after the crown left behind by the Twilight saga, this film isn’t as limited as the Vampire/Werewolf tale. Meaning that where Twilight was absolutely aimed at a teenage girl audience, this one has enough interest for anyone: young, old, male or female. At least, I, a middle aged man, didn’t feel awkward watching it as I did the first time I saw Twilight.

Writer/director Richard LaGravenese, who has given us films like P.S: I Love You and Freedom Writers, has taken the popular book and given us a film that does have a romantic backbone but never once treat its tale as deadly serious. As a director, he has done a fine job with the visuals and there are one of two very neat sequences, one particular being the scene in which duelling witches make a dinner table go spinning.

The performances are a treat too. Alice Englert and Aiden Ehrenreich make for such a delightful pair, you find yourself wanting their romance to succeed, even though there is a sense of doom underlining it. So they don’t exactly look like they are young teenagers, Englert, we are told, is 15, yet the daughter to director Jane Campion, with more than a passing resemblance to Jennifer Lawrence, looks a lot older.

The real stars and the treats of this film are Jeremy Irons, Emma Thompson and Emmy Rossum. As the sophisticated Macon, with his expensive house coats and love for interior design, Irons delivers a smooth Southern droll without even trying to over act. Emma Thompson is a blast as Sarafine, the mother of Lena. In one scene, she is seen skipping around while wearing a puffed-out dress, like some aging Scarlet O’Hara and Rossum matches them as the sinister and sex siren cousin, Ridley. All three throw in a slab of ham and it sticks.

If there is criticism, the film is slightly too long. At 124 mins, there are places where it does drag and gets a bit repetitive. It does play some favours with plotting and you wonder if there were scenes cut that would make more sense. The fact of the matter is that this is a far better film than I expected to see. I expected to cringe and feel slightly sick. I didn’t. It also plays the teenage angst card a little heavy in places although it’s never extended to make the film sink under the weight of such issues. Instead I had a jolly good time with a cast who were obviously enjoying themselves and two newcomers who have great potential.

A much more enjoyable film than I could have imagine, Beautiful Creatures isn’t just aimed at teenager girls but a much larger audience who shouldn’t be put off by its wanting to be the new Twilight. It’s better than that.

3/5

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