Over the course of five years I think it's safe to say the reputation
of vampires has been well and truly tarnished. Instead of being blood
sucking beasts, audiences seem more interested in watching them make
love and glisten in the sunlight, however that's were director Neil
Jordan steps in. Admittedly Byzantium isn't the most traditional
vampire movie, but that's not a problem, because the end result is a
fresh, innovative take on the creatures that may have installed some
credibility in the post Twilight era.
Essentially the main-plot of Byzantium follows the mother and daughter
duo of Gemma Arterton and Saoirse Ronan. The two continuously move from
location to location due to them having to hide their secret that
no-one is aware of, however upon seeking refuge at a rundown coastal
area, their secret is uncovered, which results in their past calling
Now as I have said, in the last few years vampires have been getting a
hard time. Whenever you see or hear of vampires these days, the first
thing that usually comes to mind is that of Robert Pattison. Personally
I am not a fan of the Twilight movies and I have to confess I was quite
sceptical going into Byzantium, due to the supposed vampire themes.
However, I am happy to report that Byzantium is an original, different
and genuinely great movie that I would regard as one of my favourite
films of the year so far.
The films concept is in my opinion superb. As soon as the film began I
was invested. One thing that I liked in particular was that the film
showcased rarely a dull moment. It is very well paced and the story is
just great, with some rather intriguing flashback sequences being
utilised brilliantly to connect all the dots.
Aside from being very well written, the films' setting is another
factor as to what makes it so enjoyable. Personally I felt that the
run-down coastal setting was just superb. Not only because it sets the
tone and feel of the movie, but it just gave it that added creepiness
that you would expect from a movie like this.
The cinematography is very good and in terms of visuals I think the
film was one of the best looking that I have seen in a long time.
Understandably the mood is very dark and occasionally quite Gothic, but
again, not only is the seaside primitive in establishing that, some of
the other locations really are just as good.
Aside from Jordan's fantastic direction, the thing I liked most about
Byzantium was the acting from its two leading ladies. Beginning with
Saoirse Ronan, as we all know she is a fantastic young actress who very
rarely fails to come up with the goods. In this movie she is playing
quite a reserved, intellectual who is quiet but intriguing nonetheless,
whereas her on screen mother portrayed by Gemma Arterton is the exact
opposite. Now I think it would be unfair to compare the two because
although they are both playing vampires, they are very different
characters to say the least. There's no two ways around it, Ronan is
genuinely great in this movie, but I thought the real star of the show
was Gemma Arterton, who I felt was absolutely fantastic. In my opinion
Arterton showed a very different side to her normal self in this movie.
Whilst I wouldn't go as far as saying the role was too demanding, I
have never seen her play a part like this, and honestly I think she
should do it more often, because it has shown a massive amount of
versatility on her part.
In terms of chemistry Ronan and Arterton work wonders on screen and if
it wasn't for their performances I honestly think that this movie would
have panned out very differently. So in terms of casting I think it's a
job well done.
This really isn't the type of film that you're going to forget in a
hurry. Personally I could watch it again and that really is saying
something, as I rarely watch something more than once, however with
that being said one final thing that I would like to touch upon would
be the musical score.
Again this was another key factor in establishing the look and feel of
the film and it really worked. This is a rare movie where everything
just blends simultaneously and for that reason alone I most certainly
feel it's worth investing two hours in.
Byzantium is a great movie that really makes me feel passionate as a
critic. In a year where films have been slightly hit and miss, this
film is definitely a hit. It has a great vision and knows exactly what
it wants to be. Supported by two stand out performances this is
British-Irish film-making at its near best and as I stated it is one of
my favourite films of the year so far.
Check out my website: www.jacks-reviews.com/