Alden Ehrenreich, Alice Englert, Jeremy Irons, Viola Davis, Emma Thompson
Directed by Richard LaGravenese
It starts sweetly, kind of. Young love blooms between Ethan Wate (Alden Ehrenreich), a literati wannabe stuck in small-town, small-minded Gatlin, South Carolina, and Lena Duchannes (Alice Englert), a visiting witch. Much is made of the two reading and quoting Kurt Vonnegut, Henry Miller and the street poetry of Charles Bukowski. It's all southern-fried bullshit, of course. The two bond best over pop culture references, such as Lloyd Dobler and his boombox in Say Anything. Ethan has this theory that (spoiler alert) Leo didn't have to drown at the end of Titanic. Why didn't Leo and Kate just take turns on that piece of driftwood? Good point. Writer-director Richard LaGravenese, who wrote The Fisher King and the underrated Living Out Loud, shows a genuine feel for give-and-take among teen outliers. And Ehrenreich, the star of Francis Ford Coppola's Tetro and Twixt, and Englert (Ginger and Rosa), daughter of The Piano's Jane Campion, have genuine screen chemistry. Too bad it all goes to crap when the plot kicks in. Start the blame with the Young Adult bestseller by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl that spawned Beautiful Creatures. It's warmed-over Twilight, with witches instead of vamps, only the witches are called casters as in spell casters. When Lena hits her 16th birthday she'll be called to fight with the light side or the dark side. It's a bigger yawn than it sounds. As supernatural types, Oscar winners Jeremy Irons and Emma Thompson overact so strenuously and with such outrageously awful Southern accents that you fear the damage this crock may do to their reputations. Bukowski would have puked. I know I did.