A Vampire Movie that Slipped Through the Net
I remember hearing about an upcoming vampire movie starring Irish actor Saoirse Ronan (The Host, The Lovely Bones) maybe eighteen months to two years ago, but I don’t remember it ever coming to the cinema. I found it recently and thoroughly enjoyed this very different vampire tale. It’s directed by Neil Jordan, who also did Interview with the Vampire.
Byzantium is often bleak, but with the muted tone, vibrant cinematography and stunning performances by Ronan, Gemma Arterton and Caleb Landry Jones, I’d recommend it to any fans of the vampire genre who are interested in watching something different.
Clara and Eleanor have spent the last two hundred years moving from place to place, running. They could be sisters, and call themselves such, but Clara is actually Eleanor’s mother. They are vampires, but not the sort we’ve come to know in recent years. They aren’t superhero powerful, leading fabulous lives of wealth and frivolity, having great sex or enjoying all-consuming romances with eternal lovers. No, Clara ekes out a meagre living for them as a prostitute. She’s been selling her body for hundreds of years and doesn’t know anything else. Times may have changed since she was a young human, but one of the oldest professions in the world goes on. She’s sparky and straight-talking where Eleanor is quiet and reflective. Clara kills when necessity strikes. Eleanor takes only those who are willing and ready to die.
Their arrival in a rundown seaside resort in England brings about big change. Clara finds a home and new business enterprise in a nerdy guy suffering a recent bereavement. She turns his deceased mother’s closed down guesthouse into a brothel. Eleanor meanwhile wanders into a nursing home one night and starts playing the piano. A young employee watches her play. She is polite but not eager to answer his questions. Frank is a pensive young man, quiet and older than his years. They attend the same school, both are outsiders and loners, and so it’s no surprise they are drawn to each other. Eleanor breaks her mother’s rule. She writes the story of their lives for Frank, and their private world is about to be torn apart.
I found myself moved watching this story. It doesn’t have the action or the beautiful brooding vampires we’ve come to see in recent years, a welcome change. These two women seem like ordinary, down-on-their-luck people, scrummaging through the garbage heap of life to maintain their existence. The dilapidated promenade running the length of the beach and the desolate, empty atmosphere of the town serves to underline the sombre and quiet tone of this film. The flashes of life, spirit and violence all come from Clara.
How they came to be vampires is another unusual twist on the typical blood exchange we’ve come to see in most books and films. The flashbacks that happen throughout the film give us just enough information to keep us waiting for the next piece of the puzzle.
For a rainy day, I’d recommend Byzantium. Even if you’re not a fan of the fang, but enjoy supernatural dramas, give this a try. ****
Here’s a clip of Eleanor talking with one of the teachers who read her essay.
What do you think? One to add to your vampire movie list?
I hadn’t heard of this one at all, will have to give it a try! Different is always good. 😉
Do, Jen. It’s a good one, and no sparkly vamps in sight for you to worry about.
I always like it when something is given a different twist. Game to give it a try. Thanks for sharing.
Hope you think it’s good, Sherry.
This movie is next on my Netflix queue. Glad to know it is worth looking forward to!
Let me know what you think, Megan. I can’t find anyone else who’s seen this.
I watched the movie this past weekend and will be posting my review on my blog later today. I linked your post to mine to let others know that this movie is getting some buzz.
Cool. I’ll check it out.
Ooo, very intense film clip. I like! I may have to give this a try. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on it!
Saoirse Ronan is great. Even in poor films (i.e. The Host), she does a good job.
Thanks for stopping by, Mae.
I’ve never heard of this one…
Not surprising. Only got a limited run in cinemas so most people didn’t know it was out. Poor marketing.
I love Saoirse Ronan! I remember seeing the ads for this film a while back but totally forgot it since. Thanks for reminding me and I’m glad you enjoyed the movie. 🙂 I’m putting it on my to-watch list.
Yeah, she’s great and seems so down-to-earth. It’s shot in Hastings, Becky. Don’t know if you’ve ever been there?
No way really?! I’ve definitely been there quite a few times. How cool. 😀
Sounds very intriguing. I’ll have to check it out.
Well-made indie flick. Give it a go sure if you happen to come across it. 🙂
I reviewed this one myself a while back. It was indeed an unexpected gem and quite a different take on vampire lore. Really enjoyed it and the performances overall were inspiring. Nice post! 🙂
I’ll check out your review. Thanks V.
keep the reviews coming – enjoying, Emma
Saw this a while back. Loved the performances, and the originality, but didn’t love the movie overall. Can’t say what, though. Still, I’d recommend it and it a 3/5 :)’ I’d give this eloquent review a 5/5 though Emma 😉
Thanks for the kind words, Shah. 🙂 I just thought there was something quietly beautiful about this film.
It sounds depressing and eerie. I might give it a try, though. Sometimes I like these melancholy movies. I really liked the clip, too.
It’s a little bit of both.
And “melancholy” is definitely a good word for this movie.
I remember wanting to see this movie, but then forgot all about it. Now that it’s out, I look forward to seeing it.
Hope you get something out of it. Gemma Arterton is a beauty, you should enjoy her screen presence anyway!
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