Dir: Bill Eagles. UK. 2000. 87 mins.
Prod Co: Snakemen Productions for DNA. Int'l Sales: UPI (44) 20 7307 1300. Prods: Alan J Wands, Simon Donald. Exec prods: Duncan Kenworthy, Andrew McDonald. Scr: Simon Donald. DoP: James Welland. Prod des: Andy Harris. Ed: Jon Gregory. Main cast: Rachel Weisz, Susan Lynch, Iain Glen, Maurice Roeves, Alex Norton.
A lurid, Tarantino-style romp of murder, greed and sweet liberation, Beautiful Creatures doesn't have the substance or skill to live up to its pre-screening reputation as a British Thelma And Louise. Screenwriter Simon Donald serves up what is developing into a trademark cocktail of broad Scottish accents, brutal acts of violence counterpointed with lush popular music, and sickly moments of ghoulish black humour. More polished and palatable than his previous effort, the commercially disastrous Life Of Stuff, it provokes nervous laughter and bemused indulgence. Its more extreme qualities (severed human digits, maimed dog etc) could secure it a niche audience but mainstream prospects look much trickier.
Smart, resourceful women, inexplicably hitched to evil, foul-mouthed men, Petula (Weisz) and Dorothy (Lynch) meet when the latter intervenes to save the former from a savage beating at the hands of her boyfriend. The intervention takes the form of a mighty blow to the head with a large metal pipe. Left with a dead body, the duo and their trusty dog Pluto improvise a kidnap scam and a ransom demand for a £1million. The sum doubles when a lecherous Detective Inspector (Norton) distorts matters with his own larcenous scheming and matters are resolved in a rush of last-minute double-dealing, canine heroics and bloody deaths.
Whilst Thelma And Louise spun spiky, feminist fantasy from harsh reality, Beautiful Creatures owes more to the conventions of other pulp fiction thrillers and is consequently more predictably plotted and less poignant. The mannered dialogue, sleek settings and gruesome details may grab the attention but without a credible heart and soul behind them the film is just an overheated exercise in noir chic.