Beautiful Creatures [2000]

Not so much a feminist twist on the bloody British gangster thriller as a vision of innocents in thugland, Beautiful Creatures offers a pair of birds at the center of this traditionally bloke-driven genre. Think of it as Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels by way of Bound. Susan Lynch and Rachel Weisz are Dorothy and Petula, gangster girlfriends desperate to escape the Scottish underworld of scumbags, violent gang bosses, and corrupt cops. The familiar details are all here--a dead body that won't go away, an uneasy balance between sadistic violence and black humor, and a tightening web of conspiracies and revenge plots that converge in a messy climax. But director Bill Eagles and writer Simon Donald temper the runaway plotting and cutthroat conniving of alpha males with moments of female bonding and giggly girl talk. Unfortunately they never quite overcome the brutal misogyny inherent in the genre. Still, there's a real joy in seeing Petula's self confidence blossoming under Dorothy's encouragement and trust, and you can't help but want the giddy girlfriends to triumph over the big, bad underworld. --Sean Axmaker

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