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Beauties Pay Back the Beasts

By Michael O'Sullivan
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, April 20, 2001

   


    'Beautiful Creatures' Rachel Weisz in "Beautiful Creatures." (DNA)
After a recent screening of "Beautiful Creatures," a darkly comic, neo-feminist thriller set in Glasgow, a fellow critic stood up and promptly declared the movie to be "nasty."

Which is not, when you think about it, such a bad thing (just ask Janet Jackson).

As for me, I loved its beastly little heart. Yes, it's a gory, dirty, amoral story about Dorothy (Susan Lynch) and Petula (Rachel Weisz), two young women who kind of, sort of, accidentally kill Petula's abusive boyfriend, Brian (he actually dies not from Dorothy's original lead-pipe blow to the head but several hours later when he wakes up in her bathroom and reinjures his noggin). And, with the exception of Dorothy's pet, Pluto (winningly played by a dog named Storm), there isn't a sympathetic male character in the film. Still, it's shockingly funny in a twisted sort of way – not to mention an all too rare pleasure (even in this liberated day and age) for the simple reason that its heroines are able to take care of themselves without (or, more accurately, in spite of) masculine intervention.

It's "Thelma and Louise" with a thick, Glaswegian burr.

And it was made by two guys: director Bill Eagles and playwright/actor-turned-screenwriter Simon Donald.

Dorothy and Petula – who just met thanks to Dorothy's stumbling upon Brian (Tom Mannion) with his fingers wrapped around Petula's neck – decide that with the jerk's untimely demise, this might be a good opportunity to extort the decedent's creepy older brother, Ronnie (Maurice Roeves). Calling Brian's disappearance a kidnapping, the two women request a ransom of a million pounds. What complicates things, though, is the arrival of Detective Inspector Hepburn (Alex Norton), a plodding but methodical cop who is actually pretty good at his job – except for the fact that he's as crooked as a dog's hind leg.

And speaking of dogs, Pluto doesn't help matters when he gets the munchies and starts nibbling on the fingers of Brian's corpse, which has been stashed on the balcony of Dorothy's apartment for freshness's sake. Before long, Iain Glen shows up as Dorothy's equally abusive junkie boyfriend, Tony, who decides he wants a piece of the action, too (not to mention a roll in the hay with Petula).

It's all so very sick . . . and wonderfully empowering to watch Petula and Dorothy turn the tables on their testosterone-crazed tormentors.

Why should boys have all the fun in the movies? If the legality of Petula and Dorothy's behavior is questionable, we can forgive them and root for their success not just because of the actresses' winning performances (they break the law in the best tradition of Butch, Sundance and other charming outlaws) but because of what we see around them: a drooling pack of violence-prone, opportunistic lechers.

The moral of the story? If you want a traditional chick flick, go see "Bridget Jones's Diary." And if you want a true male friend, get a dog.

"Beautiful Creatures" (R, 88 minutes) – Contains obscenity, brief sex, drug use, shooting and bludgeoning, a severed finger, injury to an animal and talk of bestiality.

 

Copyright 2001 The Washington Post Company


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