As Lena, the spell-casting heroine of Beautiful Creatures, Alice Englert makes it snow in South Carolina, but she was powerless to stop the weather from stranding her in Baltimore for Cinema Society's New York premiere of the movie. Fortunately, her co-stars Viola Davis and Emmy Rossum were on hand to introduce the movie to a VIP crowd of New Yorkers that, judging from the discussion at the post-premiere party at Cole's Greenwich Village restaurant, came away impressed by the film's performances and writing. Although Beautiful Creatures is directed at the Twilight crowd, it's much smarter and — for a supernatural teen love story — more realistic than the sparkly vampire franchise, thanks to Richard LaGravenese's witty, thoughtful script and some excellent casting choices. With the exception of Rossum, the main teen cast members in Beautiful Creatures are not cut from the Team Edward, Jacob or Bella molds.
Leading man Alden Ehrenreich reminds me of a young Bill Hader from Saturday Night Live with a dash of Jack Nicholson in the eyes and brows, and he's got real charisma and range as Ethan, the book-devouring smart-ass who dreams of ditching his small-town life for New York City and falls for the exotic but troubled Lena when she transfers to his school.
Englert, who is the daughter of Australian filmmaker Jane Campion, also does a great job of conveying the complexity of Lena, who's tormented by the bitchiness of her Bible-thumping classmates and, yet, has the power to smote them all. She's also living with the knowledge that, on her 16th birthday in a few weeks, she will either "turn to the dark" and use her supernatural powers for evil, or "to the light."
And yet, though Lena's fate (and Evan's role in it), form the core of Beautiful Creatures, the adults get plenty of scenery to chew. Emma Thompson and Jeremy Irons play two rival casters who battle each other over Lena's fate, and their confrontation at a church meeting is one of the movie's high points. Irons is particularly memorable in the movie's Gomez Addams role. He's a sardonic, old-school Southern aristocrat fed up with the town's shabby treatment of his niece and LaGravenese gives him some great lines, such as when Irons dismisses the gossipy Scripture-quote women of the town as "sexually frustrated housewives with miniscule minds and voluminous backsides."
Among the boldfaced names that were in attendance at the screening and party, which Dior Beauty hosted: Ivanka Trump, Debra Winger and her husband Arliss Howard, Crash director Paul Haggis, Girls actor and filmmaker Alex Karpovsky, former Brady Bunch actress Eve Plumb and Dianne Vavra, public relations executive for Dior Beauty, which co-hosted the event with Cinema Society.
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