Though big chunks of the book were changed or altered, Beautiful Creatures “the movie” is a lovely and articulate translation of the 563 page book. This was helped by an all-star supporting cast and stellar performances from unknowns Alden Ehrenreich and Alice Englert.

Beautiful Creatures
Directed By: Richard LaGravenese
Starring: Alden Ehrenreich, Alice Englert, Jeremy Irons, Viola Davis, Emmy Rossum, Thomas Mann, Emma Thompson, Kyle Gallner

Premise: When Lena, the niece of the town outcast, arrives to Ethan’s small southern town, everything in his life is turned upside down. Ethan becomes enamored with Lena and they find themselves falling in love. Only Lena and her family have dark secrets. Lena is a castor and has mere months before she becomes either dark or light, evil or good. She doesn’t have a choice. Ethan finds himself in the middle of Lena’s family drama uncovering the mythology behind her family, the mystery behind his, and how he may be more connected to Lena than he realized.

 

My Review: Yes, upon first glance Beautiful Creatures is another supernatural YA novel, and yes a lot of the book was cut out of the movie, parts that developed the characters more and explained their actions better. That being said, I found this to be a delightful adaptation.  I’ve read the book, and while it’s good, it’s also very verbose. There’s a lot of exposition and a lot of things happening. The movie condensed and combined a lot of plot lines making it cohesive and dynamic.

I was skeptical at first with the southern setting, the accents being the most distracting. But it turned out to be a beautiful choice, providing some gorgeous landscapes and architecture for director of photography Philippe Rousselot to work with. I adored the casting of relative newcomers Alden Ehrenreich and Alice Englert. I have to say Ehrenreich won me over as Ethan. Upon first look, I don’t find him that attractive, (he’s 23 in real life, even though he’s playing a teenager so it’s not THAT creepy to say this) however, he charmed me with his southern charisma and endearing personality. He makes for a good leading man, and I look forward to see more from him. Alice Englert was also great as Lena. I love the decision to make her more of an everyday girl, then a girl who’s gorgeous, yet still somehow, unbelievably, an outcast. One thing that always bugs me is gorgeous girls who are cast as “outcasts” (Emma Stone in Easy A, Melissa Benoist as Marley on Glee, etc). Lena was just a normal, pretty girl. I do wish that we saw some lighter moments with her character, but that has more to do with writing and character interpretation than anything else.

What I found lacking was character development. Ethan’s father and mother are essential to the mythology behind the story of Beautiful Creatures, but in the movie they are mentioned only briefly. Plus they severely underused Ethan’s best friend Link (Thomas Mann). In fact, the story focused more on Lena and her family rather than Ethan, while the books focused more on Ethan’s journey. Focusing more on Lena made the movie darker. Emmy Rossum was a bit cartoonish as the breathtaking but evil Ridley, who was trying to push Lena over to the dark side. I wish she added a bit more vulnerability to Ridley, who in the book is so obviously hurt that her family turned their backs on her. I love Rossum’s work on Shameless and I wish there was more “Fiona” in the movie version of Ridley. I thought Emma Thompson’s performance was stellar. She usually portrays pleasant, sympathetic characters it was nice to see her bad side come out. Thompson, Viola Davis, and Jeremy Irons definitely classed up the movie and made it more than just your run of the mill movie.

Overall what made the movie successful was the fact that Lena and Ethan are extremely likable. With great actors, gorgeous cinematography and an engaging plot you have all the makings for a successful movie. Beautiful Creatures is definitely worth checking out.

Ratings: 3 Stars

 

 

 

 

 

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