Saturday, April 20, 2013

Beautiful Creatures

I was not planning to see this movie. It is, fundamentally, a teen-oriented coming-of-age story. I’m more than twice the age of the main characters. The trailer looked good, though, and it had some good names attached. Oh, and I got free passes to a preview screening. (Thanks Vasana!)
Standard disclaimer: I have not read the book on which the movie is based.
The best thing about this movie is the dialogue. If the book is like this – and I assume it must be, because what movie has better dialogue than the book it’s based on? – then I’ve seriously underestimated at least one part of the teen paranormal section of the bookstore. Yes, there’s a teen paranormal section in the bookstore. Anyway, the dialogue – especially in the first part of the movie, it was superbly witty and snarky. I will forgive a lot of flaws in a movie that has dialogue like that.
This was also a very pretty movie, with some seriously good cinematography. Good enough that I just looked up the cinematographer. His name is Philippe Rousselot, and his credits include the recent Sherlock Holmes movies, Big Fish, Interview with the Vampire, and A River Runs Through It.
It was well-acted, with lovely supporting efforts from Jeremy Irons, Emmy Rossum, and Emma Thompson. The main pair have their moments as well, especially Alice Englert, who has wonderful smiles and mouth-twitches (and who benefits rather a lot from the cinematography and the costumes). Speaking of costumes, there were some very good ones, mostly on the supporting cast. A couple of the sets were quite lovely as well.
If I have complaints about the movie, they are mostly thematic. I suspect that some subtlety and nuance was lost in the translation of the plot from book to movie. The part of the plot that isn’t interpersonal is about good vs evil, which is fine, but is easy to execute in a way that is unsatisfyingly glib or superficial. This rides the edge of that territory, for me. They might have done as well as they could, given the constraints of a movie format.
Also, there were lots of references to Bukowski and suchlike authors, who I don’t read and have no interest in reading. This was tolerable, however.
There was at least one outright mistake in the movie – it was minor, and I mention it only because I don’t normally notice this kind of thing. Flipping frames left-for-right is common practice in film, and mostly not noticeable. If you do it while the character is standing in front of a wall-sized world map, however, it’s pretty obvious…

In sum – a movie adaptation of a teen paranormal romance with witty dialogue, good production values, and solid acting. It gets first place so far on my list (duh).

1. Beautiful Creatures
2. Hansel and Gretel, Witch Hunters

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