Twilight and Beautiful Creatures are stories about experiencing first love in high school. So, for that to happen, the two teens need to fall in love. Both of these movies use a troupe called Enemies to Lovers to make that happen.
In Twilight we see Edward hate Bella almost immediately when she enters their biology class and he smells her. It’s an awkward scene including Bella sniffing her hair and ends with Edward shooting out of the classroom seeking relief.
He’s gone from school for at least a week and when he reappears he speaks in a forced clipped tone. He asks Bella about the weather, about why she moved here, and basically tries to figure out the way her mind works.
I give this scene credit that Edward wants to know what she’s thinking, but it’s undercut with a feeling of being questioned verses having a conversation. Bella never asks anything until the end and Edward never volunteers anything about himself. It’s just question, after question.
At the completion of their first, all be it one-sided, conversation twenty-one minutes of movie time has passed. In Beautiful Creatures, the first conversation between our two leads takes place at the eight-minute mark and is full of character information.
Car Ride Home
Ethan’s driving down a seemingly abandoned side road, the rain is pouring down like crazy, and he’s singing terribly along with a song on the radio. He swerves to avoid hitting Lena, who’s standing in the middle of the road. He gets out and they verbally banter in a way many future lovers do in an Enemies to Lovers troupe.
After a minute of verbal sparing Lena accepts a ride from him. Ethan shows kindness by opening the passenger door for her and, once inside, handing over a towel. At both turns she brushes him off, first by walking around the car and sitting in the back. Second, by barely saying thanks and pulling out a book in an effort to ignore him.
During the ride Ethan attempts to start a conversation. Just like in Twilight, the guy is the only one asking questions. But this one seems much less like a lawyer questioning a witness for information and more like what I’ve experienced many times personally when trying to encourage a highly introverted person into conversation.
By the end of this scene we’ve learned so much about both characters, not just one. Plus, in the Twilight scene, the audience hasn’t learned that much new information.
How they End
The Beautiful Creatures scene ends with Ethan asking Lena about what book she’s reading. He asks if the author, Bukowski, is any good. She replies, “Define good.” That night we see Ethan reading Bukowski’s book and is awed by the writing, calling the author a god.
Whereas the ending to Bella and Edward’s first conversation is Bella finally asking a question, which Edward answers with a lie and then marches away with no explanation.
These two scenes had the same job and expectation from a story structure standpoint. Have the love interests interact and show the connection between the two in a tension raising way. While this is done in both, I think the execution is far more interesting in Beautiful Creatures. The writing is quick and snappy, we feel the tension in their dynamic, and get backstory for both characters.
What do you think? Do you like having the get to know you section more drawn out? Or do you agree that quick and to the point is best? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.
Bella & Edward’s Conversation
E: So, you enjoying the rain?
B: (Anxious laugh.)
B: You’re asking me about the weather?
E: Yeah, I... I guess I am.
B: Well, I don’t really like the rain. Any cold, wet thing, I don’t really...
E: (Amused laugh.)
E: Nothing. (Amused laugh.)
(Competitive Bio talk about the phases of mitosis.)
E: if you hate the cold and the rain so much, why’d you move to the wettest place in the continental US?
B: It’s complicated.
E: I’m sure I can keep up.
B: My mom remarried, and...
E: So you don’t like the guy, or...
B: No, that’s not... Phil’s really nice.
(More competitive Bio talk.)
E: Why didn’t you move with your mother and Phil?
B: Well, Phil’s a minor league baseball player, and he travels a lot, and my mom stayed home with me, but I knew it made her unhappy, so I figured I’d stay with my dad for a while.
E: And now you’re unhappy.
E: I’m sorry, I’m just... I’m just trying to figure you out. You’re very difficult for me to read.
B: Hey, did you get contacts?
Lena & Ethan’s Conversation
E: You been to a lot schools?
E: That must be nice. I only ever lived here.
L: Must be nice
E: So, where you all lived?
L: Pretty much every state that seceded from the union. Moved around since I was four, after my parents died.
E: I only have my dad. My mom died last spring. How’d it happen?
E: Car accident.