Beautiful Creatures (2001)

Reviewed By Thom
Posted 05/03/01 11:35:05

"Porn with a social conscience. Eeeeeexcelennnnt."
4 stars (Worth A Look)

"I love him even though he beats me." It doesn't get any prettier even coming out of the mouth of the lovely, tender, Petula (Rachel Weisz, the girl wut must be rescued in THE MUMMY and THE MUMMY RETURNS). A mouth that every slimy, stereotypically violent and predatory man in this film wants to make good use of.

The English are figuring out that sex, glamour and violence is what sells. After decades of charming period pieces and bardic revelries chock full of witty and eccentric characters we are now getting a crop of over the top, blood splattered youth driven mayhem. Maybe the film version of Trainspotting gave the English a yen for depravity wrapped in designer clothes. Stylistically, this film is like Go (written by John August) but has a subtle, underlying feminist commentary, whereas Go didn't have anything to say about the social aspects of an addicted society. But pretty people in nice, blood splattered clothes will take you a long way in terms of sheer spectacle.

You could think of Beautiful Creatures as a Thelma and Louise except the enormously daft Petula and her accidental hero, Dorothy (Susan Lynch, The Secret of Roan Innish) don't have to sacrifice themselves to make their point. The men in this film are unbelievably cruel and downright creepy. I got the willies just watching the many scenes of sex mad men attempt to sexually dominate and control submissive and dependant woman.

The director, Bill Eagles, does have some fun with beautiful women and hetero male desire in a couple of cleverly conceived scenes involving bondage porn.

Beautiful Creatures even has a plot that one can easily follow but its not nearly as interesting as the acerbic stabs at the uglier aspects of the male sex drive in our culture. You have to tie together all that action (and there is lots of it!) with something. Eagles pulled it all out and made what I guess could be something like porn. EVERYTHING in this film is wonderfully, blatantly gratuitous. Blood, boobs, drugs, guns, knives and even ... porn! The only thing that is not in this film are cute man butts, but thats because this film is about how gross and creepy and dangerous men can be and I guess Eagles didn't want to sexualize that because that would be pretty creepy in itself.

As is common in British films (where the actors are actually ... actors), lots of talented stage/screen actors fill out this cast. All of whom seem to have a penchant for dark, weird or twisted plots. With that kind of sensibility working en masse at the helms of a director whose only other credits are Touching Evil III and Weird Shit Happens, you are bound to have the kind of set chemistry needed to wrap you, the intended audience in nightmarish bliss with a cleaner edge than David Lynch. At 88 minutes, its just short enough to do it's job without dragging through any scenes. Beautiful Creatures delivers on its title. Watching it is like eating candy, the way Romy and Michelle's High School Reunion is like eating candy. Its novel, its colorful and it grabs your attention so you don't have to do anything but be pulled along for the ride.

Normally, I watch films like this with a magnifying glass the likes of which Gloria Steinem would shy away from. In spite of Dorothy and Petula being portrayed as hapless females who, in spite of themselves, manage to get involved with the most despicable men imaginable, the way the worst aspects of male domination are portrayed are so visceral that I feel like the movie did more to teach my body about how repulsive that way of being is than any long-winded bra-burning rant would instruct my mind.

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