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John Gordon Sinclair
One stormy Glasgow night Dorothy and Petula's lives are inextricably thrown together, bonded by a common flaw. Dorothy's on the run from her boyfriend and Petula should be doing the same. Evasion, blackmail, murder, betrayal, revenge and a suitcase loaded with a million quid... it's all there... and then some. Written by
Girls Like Us
Written by Ali Campbell, Janet Fyffe, Dawnette Nevers and Brian Travers
Producers: Angus Campbell and Ian Wallman
Performed by B15 Project Featuring Crissy D & Lady G
Courtesy of Oracabessa Records Ltd
Published by EMI Music Publishing Ltd See more »
Black Comedy with Plenty that is Black but Little that is Comic
The British have the reputation for being an eccentric race, and "Beautiful Creatures" is one of the eccentric oddities that the British film industry occasionally comes up with. The film, which is set in Glasgow, can best be described as an attempt to remake "Thelma and Louise" as a black comedy. A young woman named Dorothy comes to the defence of another young woman, Petula, who is being beaten up in the street by her abusive boyfriend, Brian. In the struggle Dorothy hits Brian over the head with a length of metal piping, which leads to his death after the women have taken his unconscious body back to her flat. They decide not to tell anyone about the death as they think that nobody will believe that the killing was carried out in self-defence. Instead, they decide to pretend that Brian has been kidnapped and to blackmail his wealthy brother, Ron. The complex plot also involves a corrupt policeman, Dorothy's boyfriend (just as unpleasant as Brian) and a pink-tinted dog.
The original "Thelma and Louise" took a similar theme but treated it seriously, without any attempt to turn it into a comedy. There are also some similarities with "Bound", although any lesbian attraction between Dorothy and Petula is implied rather than explicit. Those two films work better than "Beautiful Creatures", largely the leading characters are much more believable and, at times, sympathetic. Susan Lynch and Rachel Weisz do not succeed to anything like the same extent. The most memorable thing about either of them was Weisz's horrendous peroxide blonde wig. (She looks much better as a brunette). I wonder if she took this part because she needed to appear in an oddball independent film in order to convince herself that she was still a bohemian free spirit despite having acted in Hollywood blockbusters like "The Mummy".
Black comedy can be a difficult subject to get right, either in the theatre or the cinema. If it is not supported by a brilliant wit (as in some of Joe Orton's plays) or by pertinent satire (as in "Dr Strangelove") it can come across as simply gross. The main rule of successful black comedy is that it is not enough to be black; one must be comic as well. Done well, black comedy can be tasteless but hilarious; done badly, it is merely tasteless.
Unfortunately, "Beautiful Creatures" falls into the second category. The film's attempts at satire all fall wide of the mark. There was presumably some attempt at feminist satire on male attitudes to women, but this does not really work as Dorothy and Petula come across as being just as twisted in their attitudes as any of the males on display. There is plenty that is black, with plot developments involving drugs, violence, cruelty and various sexual perversions, but little that is comic. 4/10
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