A coming-of-age story embedded with supernatural elements and a heart-wrenching romance are all parts of the new film, "Beautiful Creatures." The film is based off the first novel in the New York Times best selling young adult series "Caster Chronicles," written by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl.
The film follows southerners Ethan Wate (Alden Ehrenreich) and Lena Duchannes (Alice Englert) who find one another in the sleepy town of Gatlin, N.C. The romance factor begins early, because even before the two meet, they have been dreaming about one another for months.
Ethan is a junior at the local high school. He's charming, witty and takes an interest in reading the books on the church's banned books list, reading "Slaughterhouse-Five" at the beginning of the film. Having lived in Gatlin his entire life, Ethan yearns to escape as soon as he can. When asked where he's applying to college, he replies with "everywhere a thousand miles from here." Once he meets Lena, a strange new girl in town that he realizes is the one he's been dreaming about, that changes drastically.
The story's main character, Lena, enters Gatlin with a chip on her shoulder, to say the least. Her family already has a reputation for witchcraft and stirs up fear within the community. Before she can even utter her name in class, someone else does for her. Lena informs Ethan that some families have money and prestige, while hers has powers. Instead of the insensitive title of "witch," she refers to herself as a caster, the title used for the supernatural in the book series.
Following with the coming-of-age theme, once she hits her 16th birthday her true character will manifest itself in a type of magical awakening. With the entire movie centered on her possible turn to evil, a few gender issues are brought to light. Lena's uncle, with whom she is living, informs her that only women are slaves to this turning and subject to their "true" selves while men are not. Lena tries desperately to avoid this, as she comes from a long line of casters who have turned bad.
But don't be fooled by the abnormalities of the Duchannes family. They are just like every other family with problems. Any degree of normalcy that Lena can obtain are cherished, and she does the very best she can as Ethan's girlfriend. She comments more than a few times that she wants to partake in normal dating activities such as awkward dates. But when much of the world's fate lays in one's hands, normalcy is no easy feat.
The fact that love conquers all is reiterated again and again throughout the film. Although Ethan has no powers and is merely a human, he is able to protect Lena in a way no one else can. It seems a bit far-fetched that love alone can have such a powerful affect. But looking back at other well-known fantasy novels or movies, it is only fitting. In "Harry Potter," it is love that defeats Voldemort and strengthens the scarred boy. In a similar way it is love that beats back the flames of evil that are within Lena.
Lena chooses to ignore any wickedness that might be calling her, and in order to survive and avoid the darkness she faces the conflict of surrendering what's most dear to her.