So I decided to brave the vampire waters once more and check out a movie that released on DVD/Bluray just a few weeks ago called Byzantium. Starring Gemma Arterton and Saoirse (pronounced sir-sha) Ronan it looked to be a more adult take on the myth, more in line with Anne Rice's telling which instantly appealed to me. In an age of Twilight, Vampire Acadamy, and Vampire Diaries it was exciting to think that someone may depict vampires as the sexy yet insanely deadly characters they were meant to be.
While the film does entertain a bit of a "love story", it focuses so much more on the struggle of a being, once human, coping with the strain of immortality and the moral dilema of having to take lives to survive. The love story itself is not overwhelming at all, but instead brings compassion to an otherwise "evil" character and makes the unreal and unbelievable world of the undead surprisingly relatable.
I'll do my best to give you the brief rundown of the story, without divulging too much. We are introduced to a pair of vampires who have been together for over 200 years Clara (Arterton) and Eleanor (Ronan). The two live as "sisters" similar to Lestat and Louis in Interview with a Vampire and are clearly on the run from something, or someone. They escape to a small, ocean-side town in the U.K. and attempt to make a new life there. Clara befriends a local hotel owner and the three take up residence in his old, run down hotel called "The Byzantium". It is at this point that we discover the depths of Eleanor's struggles. The youngest of the two vampires, she is troubled by the life she must live, but more importantly the lies she must tell to keep her secret safe. Tired of having no one but Clara with whom to speak the truth of her life, she befriends and entrusts her story to a local boy named Frank.
Here is where the slight romance element comes into play. The two strike up an instant friendship. Frank troubled in his own ways, making their bond instant and powerful. Eleanor decides to trust Frank with her true story, and as you can imagine, this leads to all kinds of consequences and repercussions. I don't want to go into too much more detail on this point, as it is one of the main story arcs and is full of twists and turns, so lets leave it at this.
I will say however that the entire story is well written and creatively presented to the viewer. You are slowly given two stories simultaneously. We are immediately introduced to Eleanor's modern-day tale, while at the same time given bits and pieces of Clara's more ancient origin story. The two weave together seamlessly and have you hooked right from the very start.
A VERY CREATIVE TAKE ON AN ANCIENT MYTH
Again, not to give away any spoilers but the way the vampire origins are treated in this film are unique and refreshing. First, these are not your typical vampires. They don't have fangs and don't burn up in the daylight. This helps the story seem that much more believable and relatable. Couple this with the story of how they come to be and you have a new and exciting take on an old classic.
BRINGING IT ALL HOME
The story is incredibly written, well told and beautifully acted. From start to finish I thought the movie was entertaining and refreshing, as far as the unique way it handles this incredibly popular theme. I will most likely be purchasing this film in the near future, so that should speak to how highly I recommend it to even the casual fan of the genre. It has just enough to keep the die-hard vamp fan satiated, yet is grounded so well that even fans of simple drama won't be turned off.
It's a nice blend of Interview with a Vampire and Let Me In and I give it a solid 7.5/10 and a definite must watch! It doesn't look like Redbox plans to offer it through any of it's kiosks. I am baffled why Only God Forgives is allowed to be made available to unsuspecting fans but this gem is kept in the dark. So, you may need to use Netflix discs if you have that option, or check on demand through your cable provider, Amazon, XBOX, or Playstation. Trust me, it's worth the effort.
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Thanks for reading, and enjoy the movie!