It’s the beginning of the school year and Ethan Wate (Alden Ehrenreich) is going to be a junior in high school. He lives in Gatlin, South Carolina, a town where according to his late mother “there’re two kinds of people: those too stupid to leave or too stuck to move”. Ethan has been dreaming for months with a girl he has never met, but meeting her in his dream leads to danger.
Enter Lena Duchannes (Alice Englert), niece of Macon Ravenwood--latest descendant of the town’s founding family and a recluse. The Ravenwoods are hated in the town since it’s rumored they have a pact with dark forces, reason why Lena becomes an outcast at school.
Ethan and Lena quickly become mad about one another but Lena is a “caster”, a young witch with special powers and on her sixteenth birthday—which is on December 21st, coinciding with the most powerful solstice in 5000 years—her nature will decide whether she is claimed to the light or the dark.
It is said that a caster cannot love a mortal or their love is doomed since Sarafine, Lena’s mother, fell in love with a soldier fighting in the Civil War and who was killed in battle. Upon seeing her dead love, Sarafine cast the darkest of spells bringing her dead love to life but damning her bloodline until someone broke the curse.
I was curious about this movie because it is based on a bestselling young adult series. Also because its actors are some of the best in the business such as Emma Thompson (Sarafine), Jeremy Irons (Macon), Viola Davis (Amma), Emmy Rossum (Ridley) and Margo Martindale (Ridley’s mother).
Despite the weight of the bestselling novel behind it and its almost guaranteed audience, I thought the movie was just OK. It could have been better; it should have been so if you consider the heavyweight actors involved (unlike Twilight), but factors such as the lack of couple chemistry (also unlike Twilight) between its protagonists trumped acting experience. There were several kissing scenes just not credible enough. The special effects were very good and the tone was funny (in fact I laughed out loud on several occasions) but in general the story lacked heart.