Byzantium (2012)


Bil’s rating (out of 5): BB.5

United Kingdom/USA/Ireland, 2012.  , , , , .  Screenplay by , based on her play A Vampire Story.  Cinematography by .  Produced by , , .  Music by .  Production Design by .  Costume Design by .  Film Editing by .  

Vampire tales are given yet another twist, this time concentrating on the bond between mother and daughter, in this return to the genre by Interview With The Vampire director Neil Jordan.  It adapts Moira Buffini’s play to the big screen with Saoirse Ronan, once again spending an entire movie looking like she forgot her puffer at home, struggling to tell her centuries-old tale to the new young man (, whose non-British accent is never explained) she has just met.

He is in love with her romantic looks, completely unaware that she is two centuries old, and she believes that she will achieve happiness if only she can find someone to be completely honest with.  Meanwhile, her protective companion () works the streets as a prostitute to keep them safe and hidden from the strange men of a top-secret vampire order looking to kill them; she knows better than Ronan that letting people know who they are will only bring them trouble.

There are moments of impressive panache, particularly some terrific vampire violence and the engaging flashback scenes that tell the very fascinating tale of these womens’ origins, drawing you into their characters enough to make them sympathetic.

Most of the modern-day stuff is too drawn out and dull, however, and sympathy for the younger of the two heroines is very difficult to muster given how colourless her performance is.  Arterton makes an unexpected splash in the lead, fearlessly eccentric and boisterous in a way that is a refreshing alternative to her wan co-star.

Toronto International Film Festival:  2012


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