beautiful creatures(2001)
director: bill eagles
rachel weisz, susan lynch

. There was a time when English movies depicted a world of proper, snotty aristos and humble, striving proles, a land of stunning country vistas, tough working-class ghettos and elegant city homes, in London at least. The Britain of New Labour and meritocracy, however, produces films like Guy Ritchie’s Snatch and Bill Eagles’ Beautiful Creatures, films where sheer criminality has replaced class as the nation’s tragic flaw.

Beautiful Creatures is set in a sleek, stylized Glasgow, where Rachel Weisz and Susan Lynch play Petula and Dorothy, women with definite men trouble. More specifically, the men they live with -- indeed, every man they meet, cop or suit or junkie -- is a seething, violent thug. In the course of one, terrible night, they learn to fight back, and the film’s body count begins with Petula’s howling, abusive boyfriend.

There’s a joke that the body count of the average British film today far exceeds the actual murder rate of the country itself. If all British men were like those that beset Petula and Dorothy, it wouldn’t be hard to see why. 

Essentially a re-write of Thelma and Louise that doesn’t leave Glasgow’s dreary suburbs, it’s a taut, well-acted film that stacks the cards in the women’s favour by making every man they meet a leering self-abuser or a seedy, criminal creep, eager and accustomed to ignoring the law, with the law's apparent complicity; no wonder they don’t, for a moment, think they can plead self-defense. It’s a man’s, man’s world -- but not for long, I imagine, if all British women were like Petula and Dorothy.