Saturday, February 09, 2019

When Jeremy Irons Ruled The Whole Natural (And Apparently Unnatural World As Well)- “Beautiful Creatures” (2013)-A Short Film Review

When Jeremy Irons Ruled The Whole Natural (And Apparently Unnatural World As Well)- “Beautiful Creatures” (2013)-A Short Film Review

DVD Review

By Josh Breslin

Beautiful Creatures, starring Jeremy Irons and a bunch of kids, and a few off-hand holy goof denizens of the gates of hell for good measure, 2013

Who would have thought that God-fearing Gaitlin (no relationship to Gatling gun, okay), South Carolina, site of a decisive battle in the American Civil War when that meant something would be the central headquarters of the devil’s den (and not even near the river Styx). A town that proudly boasts of 12, count them, 12 churches (eleven Baptist from Primitive to 6th Day Adventist to Common Brethren and one so-called Methodist known locally by one and all as Wesley’s Folly) and one 24/7/365 very private public library. That is the main tension in the film under review Beautiful Creatures where Jeremy Irons who must be fighting Michael Caine for the record of appearing in the most films lifetime runs the show and fights the good fight against the bad-ass degenerates who do the devil’s handiwork. And he isn’t even human himself.     

When I mentioned the plotline to this film to old friend Leslie Dumont she made me laugh that this was just another albeit strange kids’ coming of age story, a high school saga that she thought had been played out years ago. And at some level Leslie, who in the interest of what appears to be current obligatory transparency used to be an old flame back in the day and now we are friends and let’s just leave it at that, was right that the growing puppy love affair between family been here for generations Ethan and new girl in town Lena was the stuff of a million films going back to when films just started, hell maybe back to  Greek calends. The kinky part, the part that sets this one apart from the usual hormonal teenage romance stuff is that Lena is not one of us, is not human. Moreover is under some strange ritual ban, maybe started by Jeremy playing Macon the king of the hill in town to not intertwine (nice way to put it, right) with humans under penalty of the human’s death.

This human sacrifice cult is what made this one interesting although I will say the specific ghoulish effects used were from nowhere and a couple of characters, denizens I guess you would call them could have been left out. Bright boy Ethan, a high school kid who is just muddling along, takes a shine to new girl in town Lena after seeing that she was reading Charles Bukowski (and with a quick glance of her reading list I noted she had William Burroughs and Harper Lee, who knows maybe Truman Capote too on tap to tempt bright boy. Of course, nobody in Gaitlin, no teenager at least even knows who the great LA writer was so this is all so much soap in the eyes). The other high school kids knowing that she had been thrown out of other high schools had her down as a tramp, maybe not the Whore of Babylon that Sam Lowell is yakking about these days in the art series he is doing with Laura Perkins (his long-time companion but he can do the transparency thing about that himself if he hasn’t done it already) but definitely weird, definitely does not fit in with the God-fearing folk of the community. Even the Methodists scorn her.             

The long and short of it as we painfully find out via first Uncle Macon, did I say that was Jeremy Irons role, Ethan’s housekeeper, Lena’s bewitched mother and a cousin Ridley who might be good for a couple of dates but who would wear you out if you spent any serious time with her is that come her sweet little 16th birthday Lena has to make a big decision. Has to decide whether she want to go to the lustful good dope and sex dark side with Mom and cousin Ridley or stay in the light with the nicer crowd, maybe join that Methodist church everybody laughs at just to show her independence. Naturally after seven kinds of hellish experiences Lena opts for the light, that wisdom coming from the catacombs beneath the town public library where all the banned books are banished to and which contain what looked to eyes like the Kabbala or Book of the Dead.  

That struggle, aided by Uncle Macon, you know Jeremy Irons, taking a slug meant for pesky Ethan which he, Jeremy, promised Ethan’s deceased mother (with whom he was having an illicit affair and under the same “no human love ban” as Lena) to do if the need arose meant that the budding Lena-Ethan romance was kaput, finished. Maybe. Hey, the more I think about this little conundrum the more I think that Leslie was right that this one was strictly a teenage coming of age film, a little quirky in spots but every teen could relate to the issues brought up in the film.     

No comments:

Post a Comment