Friday, September 3, 2021

#2,610. Byzantium (2012)


Neil Jordan’s Byzantium is the supremely endearing tale of two centuries-old vampires, Clara (Gemma Arterton) and Eleanor (Saoirse Ronan).

Forced to flee the city, the two make their way to a seaside village where Clara strikes up a “friendship” with a lonely guy named Noel (Daniel Mays), whose mother recently passed away. In need of companionship, Noel invites Clara and Eleanor to stay with him in his family’s spacious hotel.

But just as their lives seems to be settling down, the two vampires are once again confronted by the secrets of their past.

Saoirse Ronan is solid as Eleanor, the introspective, conflicted young girl who longs to share her life’s story with new friend Frank (Caleb Landry Jones), but it’s Gemma Arterton as the savvy, occasionally violent Clara who steals the show (an early scene, set in a strip club, establishes the character’s brutal nature while, at the same time, proving she can take care of herself).

In Jordan’s skillful hands, Byzantium is both a fascinating character study (of two women’s very different approaches to their unique circumstances) and an intriguing mystery (my favorite moments in the film are the flashback sequences, during which Jordan patiently reveals the tragic details of Clara’s and Eleanor’s lives, including why they must remain in hiding).

Thoughtful and mesmerizing, Byzantium is a vampire movie you won’t want to miss.
Rating: 9 out of 10

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