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[whitespace] 'Creatures' From Hell

Derivative 'Beautiful Creatures' derives nothing but disgust

By Nicole McEwan

'THELMA AND LOUISE' meets Bound meets Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels is one way to classify Beautiful Creatures, the woefully derivative feature debut of Brit director Bill Eagles. A mind-numbing, nausea-inducing, exploitative waste of celluloid is a more apt description.

By depicting a Glasgow populated by a host of shallow, greedy and vile humans of both genders, Eagles elevates the sole innocent in the film, a white German Shepherd named Pluto, to godlike status. It's a sad commentary on the entire endeavor that said canine induces the only laugh this tiresome sleaze-fest has to offer.

Truth be told, the two accidental femme fatales at the center of this mess are only marginally more likable than the villains. There's Dorothy (Susan Lynch), a stock brunette whose junkie boyfriend trashes her apartment, steals her money and douses her wardrobe and her beloved dog in red paint. Her plans to leave him for good are complicated when she comes across Petula (Rachel Weisz) being pummeled by her own loutish paramour.

Already seething over her own mistreatment, Dorothy grabs some metal scaffolding and conks the bastard over the head. He's knocked unconscious and instantly, the two bad-men-magnets bond. In the course of the all-night rap session that follows we learn that Petula stays with her beau for the money, while Dorothy doesn't even have that excuse. In the interim, Brian the bully expires in the tub.

Despite having a perfectly reasonable explanation for the brute's untimely demise; the girls hide the body. It is the first of many leaps of logic in a hole-ridden script whose character motivation and development is about as deep as the pasty foundation makeup coating Miss Weisz's undeniably pretty face.

Next thing you know, the formerly spineless Dorothy is masterminding a hare-brained ransom plot (she's the brunette, therefore the smarter half of the duo). Soon a corrupt detective starts sniffing around. Once he gets a whiff of the comely yet bubble-headed Petula, he hatches a devious little scheme of his own.

Along the way, a homemade video of Petula taking it up the bum keeps popping up. Titillating, yes--but it hardly compares to the scene in which Dorothy's ex forcibly injects her with heroin, holds a gun to her head and commands Petula to strip so he can rape her while Pluto screws Dorothy. These little narrative flourishes and the film's overall amateur approach often make you feel like you're watching a high-end porno edited by the Christian Right. It's as though they've taken out 90 percent of the action on principle then left in the most prurient bits just to prove everybody involved is going to hell.

After 86 minutes of witless violence and sadism in a film purporting to be a black comedy; Eagles at last delivers a measurable dose of irony. He drives the viewer to the slightly amusing conclusion that if Beautiful Creatures reflects reality (even marginally), then a society going to the dogs might actually be a finer place.

Beautiful Creatures (R; 86 min.), directed by Bill Eagles, written by Simon Donald, photographed by James Welland and starring Rachel Weisz and Susan Lynch, opens Friday at the Towne Theater in San Jose.

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From the April 19-25, 2001 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

Copyright © 2001 Metro Publishing Inc. Metroactive is affiliated with the Boulevards Network.

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