'Byzantium' - Movie Review

Saoirse Ronan and Gemma Arterton play mother and daughter vampires Eleanor and Clara Webb, each in the neighbourhood of 200 years old. It's established early that most of the current vampire tropes don't apply: they're not super-fast or super-strong, sunlight has no effect on them ... but they do have to consume blood. Eleanor looks 16, and Clara treats her as a child while making money as a prostitute. She's never told Eleanor - who's tired of moving around - that they're being chased.

Some of the cinematography is truly gorgeous. The story is more about a dysfunctional family than vampirism, although arguably their family problems stem from 200 years of failing to communicate. I guess it made its point about moving on when it's (long past) time, and that pain is necessary ... I didn't think it was a particularly good film: too bad given the starring line-up and good performances.

The more I think about the film the more badly constructed it seems: it's implied that there are a number of other vampires, but we only ever meet three. It's stated that they're a society that enacts justice, but we never see anything of the sort. They chase Eleanor and Clara, but that's about their "code." And they attempt to recruit Jonny Lee Miller's Captain Ruthven character, who is one of the most morally reprehensible people in existence - they know it but still try to recruit him. And at the end of the movie there's a betrayal that's telegraphed by the physical set-up of the players, but the motivation of the character is unclear at best. The whole movie feels like this: a muddle of unclear characters, ideas, and motivations.