Byzantium – CBF Review
I wish I’d known this was based on a play before I’d started watching it.
Predictably, it’s slow-paced and thinks it’s profound when it’s not.
But it does bring the blood.
The plot follows a mother/daughter vampire duo (Gemma Arterton/Saoirse Ronan), who appear to be constantly on the run from some meanie vampire order goons. They wind up in a sleepy, seaside town and shack up at the Byzantium hotel. Brothel owning ensues. Saoirse makes friends with a local boy, and through a series of “stories” she writes, reveals her and Gemma’s backstory: Gemma became a vampire after years of forced work in a brothel. She had to steal the secret of vampirism from a dude, so the order was like “no girls allowed” and decided to hunt her down relentlessly over the following 200 years. Gemma also made her daughter a vampire, so that’s, like, a double no-no. In the end, a nice man from Gemma’s past defects from the order and teams up with her and they join forces in evading her punishment, while Saoirse gets to live her life with her boythang. Who Saoirse decides to also turn into a vampire.
Mo’ vampires = mo’ problems. Have you not learned?
I hate this movie because it felt so long (it’s almost 2 hours long, but it felt so much worse. The pacing is so cumbersome, which is weird, considering the plot itself is relatively uncomplicated); despite it being a play movie, neither Gemma nor Saoirse get to show off any acting flair (Gemma just acts a bit pissed off most of the time, and Saoirse hones her “aloof and haunted” routine); and the relationship between Saoirse and the local boy is shallow. Is anyone else tired of “tortured teens find love together for no reason?”
But it’s not all bad because Gemma Arterton and Saoirse Ronan, even on a bad day, are still beautiful, talented goddesses; the violence is pretty full-on (Gemma decapitates a dude with a bit of wire, and the vampire attacks are gleefully spurty); and the method of vampirisation is new to me: you have to travel to an island and go inside a hut with a basement thing. If you’re ready to accept death, then a doppelganger of yourself rips your throat out, and later your awake as a vampire. And then the waterfalls all over the island run with blood. Because it’s cool. Oh, and Gemma and Saoirse both say “cunt.”
Verdict: 2 out of 5 stars.
Don’t let the good-sounding bits fool you. Byzantium is a tough slog. Still, it’s not the worst vampire movie ever.