Movie Review – Byzantium (2012)

Director: Neil Jordan

Stars: Gemma Arterton, Saoirse Ronan, Sam Riley, Johnny Lee Miller, Daniel Mays

Clara (Arterton) and Eleanor (Ronan) are vampires and they end up in a seaside town. When they secret starts slipping out, their past catches up with them and their relationship is strained. The film consists of flashback sequences which tell how they became vampires.

Byzantium feels fresh and by that I mean vampires are one of the most used concepts, and a lot of vampire films can feel repetitive. I found this one to be engaging however. The society of vampires that spans the centuries is interesting, and I liked how the film bounces between the different timeframes. The two protagonists were flawed and each had their own issues. Clara was trying to do all she could to protect Eleanor, but Eleanor just wanted a normal life. She finds this in Noel (Mays), and despite the fact that she’s 200 years old their relationship encapsulates the struggles of young love and what it’s like to open up to someone, only to have them betray that trust.

I felt genuine sympathy for them. Even the villains had good characterisation and weren’t downright evil. The action was cool and there were some brutal killings. The flashbacks also gave the film an opportunity to feature different locations. There were some striking visuals, most notably the cascading waterfalls of blood.

It manages to take vampires and make them feel dangerous and unique again, which is no mean feat given the wealth of material out there. The script is sharp with a lot of memorable moments and my only complaint is that the ending felt predictable. Other than that it’s a cool film and if you like vampires you should check Byzantium out.

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