Saturday, September 21, 2013

3 Short Paragraphs: Byzantium

2013, Neil Jordan (The Crying Game, Michael Collins) -- download

I had completely forgotten that Jordan directed Interview With the Vampire. Yes, the man who brought the arguably greatest vampire story since Dracula (arguably !! ARGUABLY !!) to the screen has returned with a much smaller, original story about a mother & daughter pair of vampires. This is not for the Twilight crowd, but perhaps for the fans who have grown since the books became movies? If the Lestat novels were often considered as a trashy stepping stone into better genre fiction, I can see how Twilight could be an introduction into darker and more considered vampire stories, especially when done by a seasoned and skilled movie director.

This is another original take on the vampire, with a more European sensibility, which is appropriate considering the origins of the myth itself. Sure, we may attribute the stereotypical vampire as euro-trash, but the teen resurrection of the genre has replaced that with mopey boys full of hair product. Personally, I blame Angel despite my love for the character. Here, the vampires are born of a pact with a dark spirit, ageless creatures that do need to live on blood but it dispenses with all the other trappings. These are thoughtful creatures held down by their great age and unseemly desires. They keep to small numbers and it is this plot point that the movie hinges around.

Clara (Gemma Arterton) and Eleanor (Saoirse Ronan) are mother and daughter, Eleanor having been "turned" in her teen years, years after her mother had done the same. They are on the run from the male of their kind, a mysterious sect that rarely chose women and considered Clara's choice of her own daughter as a great crime. They move from place to place, Clara ever playing the part of her youth, a prostitute and grifter. Eleanor is ever the teen daughter, being cared for by her mother. After an unfortunate encounter with the male vampires, they end up back in the place where Eleanor was born, which dredges up old memories and forces her to face her own existence. I liked that Ronan chose this role, as her connection to the teen vampire fiction club, instead of a overly melodramatic, angsty story that she could have easily been pegged into.