Two mysterious women seek refuge in a run-down coastal resort. Clara meets lonely Noel, who provides shelter in his deserted guesthouse, Byzantium. Schoolgirl Eleanor befriends Frank and tells him their lethal secret. They were born 200 years ago and survive on human blood. As knowledge of their secret spreads, their past catches up on them with deathly consequence.Written by
At one point in the film, Clara goes under the alias "Carmilla", the name of the Irish author Sheridan Le Fanu 's female vampire in Gothic novella. See more »
After Frank falls from his bike he receives a laceration on his wrist which he tends to with a handkerchief, after Eleanor aids him by taking him back home he drops the rag on his porch which is now covered in blood. The pattern and the amount of blood surrounding the rag on the floor consistently changes between shots. See more »
My story can never be told. I write it over and over, wherever we find shelter. I write of what I cannot speak: the truth. I write all I know of it, then I throw the pages to the wind. Maybe the birds can read it.
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A mother and daughter flee the mayhem they've caused in London and relocate on the Sussex coast. Clara (Gemma Arterton), a ruthless predator, opens a brothel on the top two floors of a Victorian sea-front hotel owned by a local weirdo (Daniel Mays) who's infatuated with her. Daughter Eleanor (Saoirse Ronan)befriends sickly teenager Frank (Caleb Landry Jones) and, to her mother's anger, tells him the truth about herself. A couple of creeps masquerading as cops are on the women's trail: in this revised vampire orthodoxy "The Brotherhood" doesn't allow lady members. Johnny Lee Miller plays Ruthven, a Georgian dandy who unintentionally recruited Clara 200 years ago. Tom Hollander has a thankless cameo as a New Age therapist.
Screenwriter Moira Buffini takes other liberties with the traditions of the Undead: instead of fangs they use an extending fingernail (borrowed from Wolverine?) to open up their victims. Much as he did in INTERVIEW WITH THE VAMPIRE, his previous foray into Bram Stoker territory, director Neil Jordan applies a highly individual approach to this "hallowed" (or should that be unhallowed?) ground. A glimpse of one of the more threadbare Hammer Dracula series on TV reminds us that things have moved on since Christopher Lee hung up his cape.
Inevitably we're going to compare this to Sweden's LET THE RIGHT ONE IN, the Swedish movie that reinvigorated the vampire genre a few years ago. The weakest link in BYZANTIUM is Gemma Arterton's performance: she plays Clara like an EastEnders barmaid (to be fair, the script encourages this interpretation: she's given some crudely modern lines), whereas Eleanor and Ruthven and the Brotherhood all seem to belong to the age in which they were spawned.
Still very worth seeing. Jordan's movie makes harmless Hastings (I lived there for five years) seem as spooky and dark as John Boulting's Brighton in the original BRIGHTON ROCK.
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