“Beautiful Creatures”: Tastier Than “Twilight”

This must be a great time to be an author of supernatural young adult novels, particularly if your books have been around long enough for the film adaptations to fill the post-Twilight void. This is not to say that writer-director Richard LaGravenese's Beautiful Creatures, based on the book by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl, can be entirely written off as a cash-in. Its story of star-crossed lovers — new girl Lena (Alice Englert) is magical, and local boy Ethan (Alden Ehrenreich) is not — is as old as the hills, but it's slathered in tasty Southern Gothic melodrama. Beautiful Creatures embraces its inherent pulpiness in a way the mannered Twilight films never did, and villain Emma Thompson clearly relishes chewing all the scenery in sight. The movie also takes great pains to establish the literacy of its young protagonists: Ethan is a fan of William S. Burroughs, Henry Miller, and especially Kurt Vonnegut — plus Ayn Rand's The Fountainhead, last referenced in Identity Thief, pops up yet again — while Lena has a taste for Charles Bukowski. Beautiful Creatures even has the temerity to explicitly acknowledge its parallels with To Kill a Mockingbird. If you're going to pay homage, you might as well pay homage to the best.

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