by Eric D. Snider
Released: April 6, 2001
The nihilistic influence of Quentin Tarantino, whose "Reservoir Dogs" was a Sundance hit almost a decade ago, still pops up from time to time, even though Tarantino himself has scampered back into the oblivion whence he came.
The latest film to recall his shoot-'em-all-let-God-sort-'em-out attitude is "Beautiful Creatures," a sinister British flick that is dark both literally and thematically.
There's some "Thelma and Louise" here, too, as gorgeous Petula (Rachel Weisz) and smart Dorothy (Susan Lynch) go on the lam after Dorothy rescues Petula from her abusive boyfriend via hitting him in the head with a pipe. The louse, Brian (Tom Mannion), stays alive for a while, unconscious in Dorothy's bathtub. When he dies, the gals plan to stash him in his boat and let authorities think he slipped and died accidentally. Unfortunately, Dorothy's dog Pluto chews off Brian's fingers before they can do anything with him, and it seems unlikely anyone would believe Brian not only accidentally hit his head, but also accidentally sawed off a digit.
So they have a new plan: Use the severed finger as proof that "kidnappers" are holding Brian for ransom. Brian's brother Ronnie (Maurice Roeves), a dangerous underworld thug, has loads of money, making him a prime target for extortion.
Following the case of Brian's disappearance is a detective named George (Robin Laing), who finds himself far more attracted to Petula than he ought to be. Once he begins to suspect something is amiss in the kidnapping, he comes up with schemes of his own.
And don't count out Dorothy's boyfriend Tony (Iain Glen), a junkie who alternates between affectionate and monstrous, and who also would like a piece of the action.
The story moves along at a brisk clip and has a morbid sense of humor throughout. Dorothy and Petula aren't exactly deep characters, but they're not Laverne and Shirley, either. Their rapport is amusing, as are some of the more fantastic plot twists. The film, which is empowering to women in its odd way, has a violent, wacko energy that keeps it alive -- more than can be said, alas, for most of the characters, who are pretty much stacked in a pile by the time it's over.
Rated R, abundant harsh profanity, some graphic sexuality and nudity, drug use, some graphic violence
Copyright © Eric D. Snider.
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