Beautiful Creatures directed by Richard LaGravenese (movie)

LaGravenese, R. (Director). (2013). Beautiful Creatures. [Motion Picture]. United States: Warner Brothers.

Genre: Romance, Witches, Magic

Reading level/ interest age: 13+ (according to movie rating). Interest level 15+

Plot summary:

Ethan has lived in Gatlin, Georgia his whole life. He finds the small town stifling and constantly adds to his plans to leave upon graduating high school. However, Ethan cannot seem to get over a recurring dream of a girl in a field. When Lena Duchannes shows up as a new student in class, Ethan becomes interested in her. Lena is not like other girls in town and constantly gets picked on. Her family has a bad reputation and has stuck to themselves for years to avoid scrutiny. Despite this knowledge, Ethan pursues Lena and finds out more than he bargained for. 

Lena is a witch or, as she likes to be called, a caster. When a caster turns sixteen, they are claimed for either light or dark. The women in Lena’s family have a bad history of turning dark and with Lena’s birthday coming, she and Ethan must work desperately for a cure. Will Lena turn dark like her mother and sister or can she find a way to claim herself?

Reader’s annotation:

Lena and Ethan are two different species. With Lena’s claiming on the horizon, can Ethan find a way to keep her from going dark? Claim yourself.

Information about the author:

“A Big Apple native born October 30, 1959, LaGravenese came of age in Brooklyn and studied acting at New York University's experimental theater wing at the Tisch School for the Arts. As a student, he honed his skills with dialogue and formed a New York- and Toronto-based comedy troupe, for which he also wrote sketches. After a disastrous turn on the icky 1989 generation gap ‘comedy’ Rude Awakening, starring Cheech Marin and Louise Lasser, LaGravenese supplemented his (unrelated) day job by working on the script for what became The Fisher King (1991) -- a project reflecting his lifelong fascination with mythology. Directed by Terry Gilliam (who shares La Gravenese's passion for antiquated Arthurial legends and myth), King debuted during the Christmas season of 1991 and became an instant runaway hit and Academy contender. This most unusual picture stars Jeff Bridges as long-haired Jack Lucas, a suicidal New York DJ who regains his grasp on life after meeting Parry, an ostensibly insane homeless man (Robin Williams) obsessed with questing for The Holy Grail in midtown Manhattan. At the 64th Annual Academy Awards, the 32-year-old LaGravenese netted an Oscar nomination for his original screenplay (Best Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen), though he lost to Callie Khouri for Thelma & Louise….

“Living Out Loud (1998), a romantic comedy drama starring Holly Hunter, Danny DeVito, and Queen Latifah, marked LaGravenese's directorial debut. Another tale of mid-life loneliness and self-acceptance, or, in the words of the scripter himself, ‘people who are trying to find their place in the world,’ this script pulled inspiration from two plays by Anton Chekhov. The film marked an enormous critical success -- and hailed by one critic as ‘a romantic comedy for grown-ups.’ That effort's 1998 release marked only one endeavor amid a very productive year for La Gravenese, as two other films he had adapted for the screen, Toni Morrison's Beloved, directed by Jonathan Demme, and Nicholas Evans' The Horse Whisperer, directed by Robert Redford, were released around the same time. In 2000, LaGravenese added another plume to his increasingly crowded cap, this time as the uncredited script reviser for Steven Soderbergh's wildly popular Erin Brockovich, written by Susannah Grant” (Marx, 2010).

Curriculum ties: N/A

Booktalking ideas:

1.       What would you do if you thought you only had a handful of days before going dark?
2.       How would you deal with the bullying at school Lena puts up with?

Critical evaluation:

The movie deviates greatly from the book’s original storyline. There is no room for a sequel at the end of the movie whereas the book does indeed have several following it. Despite the differences, the movie was greatly enjoyable. All of the actors have southern accents and the cinematography is beautiful despite the shameless attempts to show off Georgia’s beauty. The actors also portrayed the characters from the book well and the casting for their roles was true to the characters too. Although the special effects were minimal, they remained tasteful and believable. 

Lena’s plight is captured better than in the book as the number of days left until her claiming is a tattoo upon her hand rather than aimless scrawling. However, the scenes with Lena’s mother took away from the story and broke up the pacing of the movie. The amount of time spent in the library was also disappointing as many viewers would have liked to see more romance between Ethan and Lena rather than both of them moping around. In all, an enjoyable movie but be prepared to wait through some of the slower scenes.

Challenge issues: 

·         Witchcraft

Defensive Maneuvers:

·         Have the library’s collection development policy memorized and on hand in case a situation arises.
·         Keep positive reviews on hand to refer to or hand out when needed.
·         If the book has won any awards, mention them to the patron and briefly explain the award.
·         Listen to the patron and practice good customer service skills when communicating. Let the customer know where or if he/she can escalate his/her complaint.
·         When necessary, cite sections of the ALA’s Library Bill of Rights or refer to the ALA's Strategies and Tips for Dealing with Challenges to Library Materials.

Why included:

The movie Beautiful Creatures does deviate heavily from the book version but fans of the book still may enjoy seeing their characters come to life. I included this in the collection because the book series has a good following and the movie may appeal to others because of its fantasy elements.


Marx, R. F. (2010). Richard LaGravenese: Full biography. Retrieved August 22, 2014 from

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