Byzantium: Blu Ray Review
Released by Vendetta Films
This latest, from Interview with the Vampire director Neil Jordan, relocates to Britain's coastal towns and follows a mother / daughter duo of Clara (a rather buxom Gemma Arterton) and Eleanor (Saoirse Ronan) as they negotiate life. The nomadic duo is constantly on the run or never close to settling down thanks to something jeopardising their new lives; and when the pair end up being forced to leave another town and on the run, they fall into a disused hotel, Byzantium, run by grieving son Noel (Daniel Mays).
Before too long, Clara's turned the hotel into a brothel (a mother's got to provide, right?) and Eleanor's fallen for ailing teenager Frank (Caleb Landry-Jones) and has revealed a little more of their past to him than perhaps Clara would have liked.
However, with forces catching up with them, the duo face the possibility of facing fate once and for all - or moving on once again and facing damnation throughout their eternal life.
Byzantium is a different vampire film than what we've come to expect on a diet of True Blood and Twilight. Jordan's crafted a piece which is sombre, moody and atmospheric as it weaves back and forth into Clara's past. Arterton and Ronan are great as their characters and present a real contrast to each other; Arterton delights in company as opposed to Ronan's ethereal loner. (She seems to be delighting in these character roles). It's their relationship which is central to the story and which proves to be affecting and engaging as this tale of the damnation of an eternal existence plays out.
Visually, there are some arresting images as well - such as waterfalls turning red with blood after a vampire is created and Jordan gives these killers an extended fingernail to kill rather than the traditional fangs but these moments are somewhat lost in the second half of the film. All in all though, Byzantium is a commendable and occasionally fresh take on a genre which has been drained of originality over the years.