Alden Ehrenreich Alice Englert pursue forbidden love in Beautiful Creatures.
BEAUTIFUL CREATURES directed by Richard LaGravenese, screenplay by LaGravenese based on the novel by Margaret Stohl and Kami Garcia, with Alden Ehrenreich, Alice Englert, Emmy Rossum, Jeremy Irons and Emma Thompson. A Warner Bros. release. 123 minutes. Opens today (February 14). For venues and times, see listings. Rating: NNN
In a podunk South Carolina town, restless high-school student Ethan (Alden Ehrenreich) falls for the mysterious Lena (Alice Englert) only to discover she really is as bewitching as she seems - she's part of a family of supernatural "casters" forbidden to love a mortal.
Beautiful Creatures seems like an odd choice for Richard LaGravenese, whose credits include writing The Fisher King and directing the atrocious Hilary Swank comedy P.S. I Love You. But he's nicely suited to teasing out the familial relationships in Margaret Stohl and Kami Garcia's book, and he finds an intimate, slightly goofy tone that allows Ehrenreich and Englert to play out their tender teen romance while supporting players Jeremy Irons and Emma Thompson (have they really never worked together before?) ham it up on the sidelines along with bad apple Emmy Rossum.
LaGravenese isn't quite as comfortable with big set pieces, so Beautiful Creatures occasionally seems to slip into a fugue state in which it's possessed by Tim Burton's flailing remake of Dark Shadows. But then the fever passes, and you can get back to enjoying yourself.