A ChucksConnection Film Review

Alden Ehrenreich wears black low cut Converse “Chuck Taylor” All Stars in the film.

Beautiful Creatures

by Hal Peterson

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Ethan tries to get Lena to accept his help when her car breaks down.

Beautiful Creatures is about the unusual romance that develops between Ethan Wate (Alden Ehrenreich) and Lena Duchannes (Alice Englert), a new girl who just arrived in the small town of Gatlin, South Carolina. Ethan is not typical of the male teenagers in town; he enjoys reading progressive and modern literature (banned books to many in the town), hates living there and can’t wait to leave and go off to college. Lena is new in town, but comes from an old family long established in Gatlin. To many of the townspeople in Gatlin her uncle, Macon Ravenwood (Jeremy Irons), is suspected of being a devil worshipper, and by association, Lena is also a witch who should be shunned by the God-fearing folk in the town. We soon discover that Lena does indeed possess special powers. (What modern teen romance would be complete these days without some supernatural element?) When some of the local girls harass her in class about her family, a sudden rush of wind appears and smashes in the large classroom windows. But Ethan is oblivious of this, attracted to this new girl in town who isn’t narrow minded and prejudiced, like most of the other girls at the high school. After the glass shatters in the room, he goes over to Lena to see if she is all right. Later while driving home, Ethan discovers Lena outside in the rain, after her car has broken down. Although Lena resists Ethan’s overtures at first, eventually she is persuaded to accept his offer of help. The two soon discover that they are kindred spirits, both loving poetry, and both growing up without their mothers.

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Ethan rushes over to see if Lena is all right, after a huge gust of wind shatters all the windows in their classroom.

Ethan is very intrigued by Lena. When he finds a locket he thinks she would like, he returns to her home, which is Macon Ravenwood’s immense mansion and estate, and gives it to her. Although the house looks rundown from the outside, inside it is very spacious and modern in appearance. Macon is polite at first, but he doesn’t approve of Ethan becoming involved with his niece. In a telling scene, he hypnotizes an unknowing Ethan into describing his future, in which he describes himself as having a very ordinary and unsuccessful life. But Ethan is persistent in his pursuit of Lena, and Lena begins to respond, despite the actions of other members of her family. As the film progresses, Lena is torn between her attraction to Ethan and to what she must do to remove a longtime spell that was cast over her family.

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Ethan meets with Macon, Lena’s father.

Lena confesses to Ethan that she and members of her family are casters, capable of doing things like changing the weather, or creating illusions. At her upcoming sixteenth birthday, Lena must choose between becoming a caster for good or evil. Her family is divided on this. Her uncle and grandmother want her to be on the side of good, while her cousin Ridley (Emmy Rossum) and estranged mother, Sarafine (Emma Thompson) want her to go to the dark side, like they have. They know that Lena has the potential to be a more powerful force than they are no matter which side she chooses. But there is another complication. In order to remove the curse on the family, Lena must sacrifice one of her loved ones. When Ethan and Lena hold the locket together, a flashback is reenacted of how the curse came to be. Their ancestors, caster Genevieve Duchannes, and mortal Confederate soldier Ethan Carter Cates, (modern Ethan’s great grandfather) had fallen in love. Ethan Carter Cates was killed in battle, but revived by Genevieve using a forbidden spell that caused her to go dark, and cursed the women in the family from then on. Life is complicated in the world of casters!

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Ethan calls for Lena to come outside with him, so they can talk in private.

As the film builds to a climax, Lena must spend time in a secret library, underneath the regular public library, studying the Book of Moons. She is assisted in this by Amma (Viola Davis), the town librarian and confidante of Macon Ravenwood. As her birthday approaches, Lena must balance her love for Ethan with the obligations of her family and her desire to become a caster on the side of good, while at the same time removing the curse. Unfortunately her relationship with Ethan stands directly in the way of resolving things.

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Ethan is prevented from entering the Duchannes home by other family members.

While much was made of Alden Ehrenreich’s unauthentic sounding southern accent in the film, it really didn’t detract at all from the story. In today’s homogenized world, regional accents are tending to disappear, due to our constant exposure to “correct” sounding voices on television, radio, and in films. Once you got past his accent, if it did bother you, Alden’s performance and that of the other main characters was quite engaging. He is a fine actor with good on screen presence. Alice Englert’s performance was less charismatic, and had some uncertainty to it. But in reflection, that was exactly what her character was supposed to be like, apprehensive about how to proceed toward the momentous decision required of her on her sixteenth birthday. The film was well cast (pun intended?) with experienced actors like Jeremy Irons and Emma Thompson leading the adults and providing electricity as they sparred over the fate of young Lena and interfered with the townspeople like Ethan, his best friend, Link, and Link’s mother. If the storyline must involve supernatural elements, at least make the characters interesting and believable. Screenplay writer Richard LaGravenese did a great job with that, creating a well written script that was energized with tight direction. The special effects were good and not too overbearing, a common fault with many movies involving super powers these days. If nothing else, Beautiful Creatures will keep you entertained for two hours. And of course the ending set up the potential for a sequel.

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Ethan and Lena are led down into the secret library by Amma,where Lena must prepare herself for her sixteenth birthday.

Best Chucks Scene

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Ethan tries to persuade Lena not to walk away from their relationship.

Alden Ehrenreich, in his role as Ethan, wears black low cut chucks throughout most of the film. They help define his image as a free thinking, independent guy. There aren’t many close up shots of them in the cinematography. Probably the best scenes are when he is first getting to know Lena.

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Ethan falls down to the ground.

Beautiful Creatures. (2013) Alden Ehrenreich, Alice Englert, Jeremy Irons, Viola Davis, Emmy Rossum, Thomas Mann, Emma Thompson.
Written and directed by Richard LaGrevenese. Categories: Drama, Romance, Fantasy.
ChucksConnection Rating: 3 chucks rating MPAA Rating: PG-13

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