***THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS***
Beautiful Creatures (2013), while perhaps better written than, oh, say Twilight,
may be shelved next to other movies (specifically teen orientated) that use sexist story-lines about women, reinforcing particularly the theme of women’s inherent evilness. I will probably express in too many words my disappointment in watching this film, but I’ll try my best to keep it brief (head’s up, I fail).
The entire premise of this movie centers around Lena Duchannes’ sixteenth birthday, at which time
her “caster” (i.e. witch) powers will be “claimed” for good or evil.
Let me just pull over the plot car here for a moment, because this is where the sexism starts.
A little history about the Duchannes family:
Lena’s ancestor, Genevieve Duchannes, invokes a curse on the family when her true love is shot. He immediately dies, so she brings him back to life… er, only to kill him again (but killing him after she saved him isn’t what curses her). The curse is brought upon them all (*cough* just women *cough*) because she saved his life, brought him back from the dead, using magic that was so dark it made her evil.
I wonder how Genevieve didn’t know that she would turn dark (ahem, she’s using “dark magic”), allowing herself to become evil, thus killing her true love, and nullifying the act of saving him in the first place… but I digress for brevity’s sake.
So, okay, maybe Genevieve didn’t understand that using dark magic would make her “dark.” Stupidity isn’t sexist. However, the curse only affecting women in the family is sexist.
Now, when a female caster turns sixteen her powers are claimed for good or evil. How you ask? Well, because obviously, at the ripe old age of sixteen a woman’s “true nature” is revealed. Umm, say what? At sixteen, a girl’s fate is decided and set while she might not even be finished physically developing, not to mention emotionally, etc. Yeah, that makes perfect sense.
Add insult to injury, male casters can choose if they want to be light or dark. Oh, and better yet, they can be dark, and then change their mind! That’s what Lena’s uncle, the flip-flopper Macon Ravenwood, did. So, not only can men choose their own path in terms of good or evil, they also have (as in the case of Macon) the option of redemption where none is afforded to female casters.
Cut to: Lena’s domineering mother, Sarafine (who wants her daughter to turn to the dark side… dejavu, anyone?), and her insatiable lusty cousin, Ridley (let’s note here that Ridley had not been promiscuous or “dark” previous to her being claimed, she also left to protect Lena from herself as we see in a snippet of back-story, but now she is consumed with sexual desire- what the writer is saying to young girls here, you may be the judge of). So, their powers were claimed by the dark, and supposedly, they had no choice in the matter. None at all.
Hmm. Then, clearly, this is a story about Lena choosing her own path, right?
Meh. Not exactly.
Lena finds out from reading dark magic books (did we not learn the lesson about playing with dark magic???) that in order to break the curse a life must be sacrificed, a life taken for a life saved. Sure, okay… but didn’t Genevieve re-kill her true love? Shouldn’t that have broken the curse? (*whispers* plot holes!) Alright, fine. We’ll accept that premise. Someone Lena loves must die so she will not be evil, and she might even have to kill this person. Makes perfect sense!
So, does Lena proactively make her decision to kill someone she loves, thus changing her fate and breaking the curse? Well… She does make her boyfriend, Ethan (the guy who’s tangled up in this hot mess of a story), forget all about her and lets him live (which I’ll admit is a good choice) but, not before she tells him that he needs to leave her alone because she’s a bitch and he agrees. Ah, true love.
How then is this story resolved? Is the curse broken?
Macon, Lena’s uncle, saves the day and sacrifices himself (making the choice for Lena), allowing Lena’s mother and cousin to kill him in a plot really meant to kill Lena’s boyfriend. Because… wait, somehow if Ethan dies Lena turns dark… but she loves him, so wouldn’t the curse be broken? PLOT HOLES!!! Then Lena makes the moon disappear and stops it from claiming her dark (somehow, we don’t know how), even though the curse was just broken… Huh???
Okay. It’s all tidied up now, right? Lena’s free from the curse. She can choose good or evil. Her boyfriend is still alive. It’s all good. Only… no, it’s only half good. Lena later says that she is both good and evil. She claimed both (in a conversation between Sarafine and Macon it was revealed that Macon, choosing light and fighting against his ‘dark nature,’ was weakened- leaving me with the question: How then is Lena the most powerful castor ever ??? Plot holes!!) Then, in one of the last shots of the film, she is shown with one “good eye” and one “bad eye,” revealing her (is it really her own at this point?) decision.
Seriously? I sat through that whole movie to watch a girl who REFUSED to turn dark say, well, half bad is okay.
*sigh* Don’t EVEN get me started on the racial and religious stereotypes…