Posted on Friday, February 1st, 2013 by Russ Fischer
If you’re attracted to the idea of a fable-like vampire tale but don’t want to forego big splashes of blood and big, baroque emotional arcs, then Neil Jordan‘s Byzantium might be one to see. The film features Gemma Arterton and Saoirse Ronan as mother and daughter, with the twist being that they share vampiric blood. They’re trying to maintain the undead version of a living in a small town, but when Ronan’s character sparks to a young man played by Caleb Landry Jones, things get out of control.
Jonny Lee Miller, Sam Riley, and Tom Hollander also show up in the story that marks Jordan’s return to vampires following his 1994 effort Interview With the Vampire. (There are also distinct shades of his 1984 fairy tale A Company of Wolves here, as well.)
Reviews of this one out of TIFF last year were mixed, but this new international trailer does a good job of setting up the film as something fun and a bit set off from the now-typical film depiction of vampires.
IFC has US distribution rights to Byzantium, and will release it later this year.
Seventeen years after Neil Jordan first dipped into the vampire genre with Interview With the Vampire, his Byzantium proves that he has lost none of his taste for the bloody and Gothic. Drenched in a rich, suitably gloomy atmosphere, Jordan brings a crystalline vision to bear on this story of two female vampires who wreak havoc on an unsuspecting English seaside community, as the film fluctuates between gory mayhem and melancholic reflection.
Eleanor (Saoirse Ronan) is a precocious girl with a bent for storytelling. A natural introvert, her idea of a good time is to put pen to paper and reflect on her inner life. Her “sister” Clara (Gemma Arterton) is the complete opposite: extroverted and sexual, she struts around in stilettos and skin-tight garb, attracting hungry male gazes wherever she goes. Both carry secrets from deep in their shared past — all 200 years of it — which bubbles to the surface as Jordan wends his way through the twists and turns of the plot. It turns out that Clara was involved in a passionate love affair during the Napoleonic Wars, while at the same time Eleanor was abandoned as a child. In the present, both seek to preserve their secret from their unsuspecting new companions. Eleanor falls for a sweet young waiter (Caleb Landry Jones), while Clara settles on a homey, unsuspecting man (Daniel Mays) who has just come into an inheritance: the Byzantium Hotel, which has seen better days. The fun begins as Eleanor and Clara shack up in the hotel, feeding off their victims while attempting to stay one step ahead of their pursuers, who are hot on the duo’s trail after Clara rather violently disposes of a particularly seedy pickup.