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|Index||55 reviews in total|
... This is how to make a vampire film.
I find it difficult to fault this film. The plot is intelligent and engaging. No one is entirely black or white. The heroes are flawed and complicated, the villains, for the most part, have motivation and even sympathy. I found myself rooting for the murderous, vampiric prostitute as much for the innocent girl trapped into releasing those tired of life.
It's really two films, one set 200 hundred years ago, one in the present time, with many of the same characters and the same location, Hastings, once a fishing village, now a tired seaside resort.
The actors are very good, particularly the leads. As a resident of SE England, I recognised many of the locations. The ending was perhaps a little predictable, but still satisfying.
Don't go see this if you like your vampires to sparkle, but if you liked Let The Right One In and gritty drama, go watch it.
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 for blood.
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.
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I have just seen this film as part of the famous Bridport Film Festival called "From page to screen". It features films that have been adapted from books and are very often accompanied, either before or after the screening, by a question and answer session with either the Director, Producer or Author etc. Bridport is in the county of Dorsetshire in the United Kingdom. This pre-release screening of Byzantium was enhanced by a very informative Q&A with the Producer Stephen Woolley. If you are expecting fangs, crucifixes, coffins and garlic prepare to be surprised! These vampires are a new take on a familiar theme. Much of the film is shot on location in the seaside town of Hastings which gives it a fabulously grungy and stark atmosphere. I have to admit that I didn't really want to go and see "another" vampire film. Believe me when I say that this is not just "another" vampire film.
Although not well advertised and distributed, this movie actually is a
piece of true art. It returns to the roots of the vampire genre, but
unlike Twilight or the more action-oriented alternatives, this one has
a very adult take on it.
Although it has a fair share of action and blood, this movie really is not for those who expect exciting, thrilling and spectacular fight scenes. More like Interview With a Vampire, the movie concentrates a lot more on understanding these beings. Throwing some of the vampire's newborn traits away (sparkling in the sunlight eh?) and turning them into "Sucrient"-s, the movie revolves around how these creatures find their means of survival and how they deal with the price they pay for it.
Many critics say that the movie is too long and slow paced, which is true, but that's actually one of the reasons what makes it work. The scenes, the music, the characters all give you a dark, twisted, gripping and uncertain feeling. The slow-pacedness of the movie adds the sense of being lost, the sense of being empty to all of it.. which might make you uneasy, but by the end you will realize this is how the characters themselves feel like. You are made to feel uneasy, because it's necessary to be able to understand them.
...and although there are several quite good acting performances in Byzantium, by "them" I now think about Clara (Gemma Arterton) and Eleanor (Saoirse Ronan). Their characters are very different, but are also very interesting and more importantly: very well played. Saoirse Ronan does a perfect job in giving you the Eleanor whom you both understand and don't understand at the same time, an Eleanor whom you love and still are afraid of. Then there's Gemma Arterton who brings her best performance ever to the screen, giving you a cruel, wicked and wretched Clara who soon turns out to be so much more than what they call her...
There are quite a few vampire stories out there already, yet Byzantium achieves to be a unique pearl among all of them. Its dark feeling, interesting characters and slow storytelling do require a specific audience - people who like to listen and be mesmerized. If you feel like one, Byzantium is a must-see for you.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I saw this film as part of the Brussels International Fantastic film
festival 2013 (BIFFF), where it was the main course of the opening
ceremony, featuring director Neil Jordan as the guest of honor. It was
a very unusual opening night (I say this as an experienced film
festival visitor): we had to wait outside the venue for a very long
time (for reasons unknown), access control was sketchy (to say the
least), the audience was very noisy (especially in the beginning, but
reduced considerably once the story in the film took off), and there
were several people in obvious disguise (a priest, a soldier, and many
others) whose task it seemed to entertain the public before the actual
event started. At last, we (over 2000) found our places and sat through
obligatory speeches (intermixing french and dutch, while the other
language appeared as subtitles on screen), mentioning all sponsors
(accompanied by boo's and/or applause from the audience), handing over
an award for Neil Jordan and knighting him in the order of the Raven,
and finally the screening of Byzantium what it was we all were waiting
The category labels "Horror, Vampire" did me hesitate somewhat beforehand. But I must admit, after all, that the net result did not disappoint, at the same time demonstrating how difficult it is to categorize a movie in an informative way. In his short introduction (ultra short, not by his fault), director Neil Jordan assured us that this vampire film was "different", and his words proved to be very true. The vampires we saw here could live normal lives in broad daylight, and even were visible in a mirror. All the standard things we see in middle-of-the-road vampire movies, were avoided. The film makers were right in this, since the story can easily do without these clichés and stand on its own feet. So no crosses, no holy water, and no coffins. And finally, no horrendous screaming and no squeaking doors either, both seemingly unavoidable in any "horror" movie.
There was an ingeniously constructed story, that brought all the elements of love and hate, loyalty, and reluctance to harm (or let harm) someone loved. There is even a vampire brotherhood that refuses women as members, or even to exist as vampires, hence continuous hunts for our two main characters to eliminate them. For spoilers sake, I refrain from giving more details here. Especially what it is that binds the two women, who are telling everyone they are sisters and that one is appointed as legal guardian over the other when their mother died, is an important element that is kept for us until the finale. Even their age and their origins are revealed to us along the line in very small doses.
On the deserted island (of course cursed, according to some seamen) we see the mountains suddenly covered with blood when someone enters the mysterious cave and decides to give up his soul. Even worse, we see the phenomenon repeated several times with different persons undergoing the ritual. I don't think this contributes much, and rather distracts us from what it really is all about. The multitude of birds that each time leaves the scene on the crucial moment, has much more impact to underline the mystery of the ritual and could on itself be enough, However, since blood is a core element in vampirism, I assume that this abundance of blood could not be left out, if only to satisfy the average viewer who assumes this is part of the deal. For the record, I consider this my only minus point for the whole movie.
All in all, I was very happy to see the clichés of vampirism avoided, and even the appearance of blood was reduced to a necessary minimum. This won't satisfy the average vampire movie lover, but that is not my problem. The underlying plot, combined with the way it is brought to us, makes this into a totally "different" vampire movie, just as the director announced in his introduction. Nearly two hours running time is above average for the hasty ones among us, but in my opinion well spent.
Really enjoyed this film although I was a bit lost for the first half hour or so as I was expecting something quite different than this film delivered however as the "Story" unfolds at a fairly slow pace you feel quite drawn to the two leading characters "Eleanor and Clara" and at this time I would like to mention I was quite impressed with the acting of these two ladies Saoirse Ronan and Gemma Arterton as compared to other films I have seen them in. This film is not easily compared to anything else that I can think of as it is not Quite a Horror film or really a Vampire film, but the thing I found I kept forgetting it was Just A Story and not "Real" as the film was very well presented in the quality of the acting and filming techniques gave it "Reality" feel. I am avoiding too much of the Detail as I believe you are better off not knowing too much about it, if you like a good quality film with a good story line that is not quite about Vampires. For those that may have the usual questions,the "Blood and Guts" are very minimal as is vision of any nudity.My best description is that it is a Love story of a parent for a child.I gave this an 8 as I feel it is a better film than the current rating suggests.......
in all honesty the reason i know about this film is because am sort of fascinated with saoirse ronan and i follow all of her news, but unfortunately this beautiful film hasn't got the fame it deserves in contrast to all the other vampire movies, it's not like any other vampire movie I've ever seen maybe due to the impeccable performances by the leads and also the direction is leaning towards dark and drama rather than teenage fantasies, i mean those vampires share a few traits with the Hollywood sexy monsters, they feed on blood and they live forever and that's it, they don't have super powers and they're not super rich and they don't sparkle or burn in the sun, actually most of the time i kept forgetting that am watching a vampire flick and just got immersed in there stories and mysteries, what also drew me completely into the film is the atmospheric nature and style the director adopted and merged with the angelic music and the grim rainy cloudy weather which helped deepen the edgy feeling of the story. this is definitely a superior piece of art than interview with a vampire just watch it and you'll get the feeling
Byzantium is more a study of being human than being vampire and holds the attention easily with strong lead performances. At the center is actually a mother daughter relationship, a question of nature versus nurture and survival. As well as all the vices of humankind thrown in for good measure. In this movie the vampires are all human, albeit changed and remain human, albeit enhanced but at a cost and within the shadows of normal living. Life and death of course are issues and living,if we could live forever would we rise above what we are? Questions within. Really enjoyed this and good to see Saiorse Ronan back on form after that terrible Alien outing. Gemma Arterton also puts in a great performance. This is billed as a vampire movie however I'd recommend it to anyone as although the elements are there its very far from what you'd expect of a movie of that genre.
This movie just rocked me. I expected the usual cheesy horror movie.
Lots of blood and of course the fangs.
What I found was a work of art; The richness of the characters and their credibility was hard to fault. The storyline,and of course there was the music.
The atmosphere was enchanting. A work of art; must see this movie. I have seen a few movies in my life, but I do not recall watching them repeatedly.
I cannot put my finger on it, but I suppose this movie just got me.
I'm a sucker for a horror film that promises to be visually beautiful.
There is something about making blood look pretty and death seem
romantic that's very appealing to certain audiences. So it isn't that
much of a surprise to how much I enjoyed Byzantium. A very
untraditional vampire film that is beautifully shot and creatively
written. Although, definitely not a film for everyone, Byzantium is
filled with appealing characters, beautiful shots and a interesting new
approach on the vampire genre. It is important that you know that this
film in not fast paced nor is it as fun as an episode of True Blood.
But it is as sexy and sleek, similar to a film based on an Ann Rice
novel. I really liked this film and think most will enjoy, but only if
you like a style of fantasy horror that is both dramatically dark and
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