The Alienist by Caleb Carr

Beautiful Creatures

Starring: Rachel Weisz, Susan Lynch, Iain Glen
Director: Bill Eagles

I came amazingly close to actually seeing the Scottish, grrl-power, gangster comedy, "Beautiful Creatures" in the theaters several months ago, but missed the start time by a few minutes and decided to forego it. It worked out for the best, actually, because when I finally saw it on video, I had returned from a European trip that included a stop in Glasgow, and had a greater appreciation for the geography of the city which supplies the film's setting. Though I found the scenery of Glasgow to be rather mundane compared to Scotland's other "big" city, Edinburgh, "Beautiful Creatures" made me realize that it's unique enough to have a recognizable feel that the film does a good job of capturing.

"Beautiful Creatures" is a dark comedy that follows the misadventures of Petula and Dorothy, two seemingly intelligent young women who still manage to be addicted to their loutish and violent boyfriends. In Dorothy's case, this is explained by her recent bout of heroin addiction; a malady that often precludes bad choices in the significant other department. Petula's fondness for her abusive lover can be explained by my application of the word 'seemingly" in the phrase "seemingly intelligent" as seen above. Petula's boyfriend doesn't last long in the film - we are introduced to him as he's beating her up in a parking lot (shades of Thelma and Louise) but he is quickly dispatched by Dorothy who is wielding a long metal pole. From there the girls bond in the way you can only bond with someone after smashing someone's skull in, and they decide that it's much wiser to take the risk of making it appear that Ronnie has been kidnapped than it would be to throw themselves to the mercy of the Police. As we all know, domestic violence is practically unheard of in Scotland and there is no way the authorities would believe something as transparent as the truth. The film rolls along with some definitely hilarious interludes, eventually arriving at a violent but upbeat ending. The inclusion of some level of tragedy at the end would have made "Beautiful Creatures" have a bit more impact and regain some credibility.

All lot of critics laid into "Beautiful Creatures" for not having a single, morally decent male character. This is quite an unfair allegation - in fact, the most righteous character in the movie is a male. Dorothy's dog, Pluto, throughout the film shows and unbridled loyalty to his comrades, and makes the greatest sacrifices by not only being painted pink (by Dorothy's thuggish boyfriend) but being shot in the ear. It is exactly that sort of portrayal of chivalry that makes me proud to be a man. Sure, all the human males in the film are without fail, utter scum, but I've always preferred canines anyway.

Ultimately, the sexual politics of the film are, upon examination, rather confusing. I don't mind seeing a film stating that women are perpetual victims of the unsalvageable male psyche, but it is a little irritating to see a movie insinuating that beautiful woman actually suffer more because of their looks. How 'bout a shout out for the travails of ugly women? Or moderately attractive women? Considering that "Beautiful Creatures" was written and directed by men, it's hard to tell whether this film is really a proto-feminist statement, or a Russ Meyer style ploy to hang out with cute girls.


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