Register  |   Log In  |  
Sign up to our weekly newsletter    
Follow us on   
Search   
Forum Home Register for Free! Log In Moderator Tickets FAQ Users Online

Byzantium

 
Logged in as: Guest
  Printable Version
All Forums >> [Film Forums] >> Film Reviews >> Byzantium Page: [1]
Login
Message << Older Topic   Newer Topic >>
Byzantium - 26/4/2013 10:16:23 AM   
Empire Admin

 

Posts: 29501
Joined: 29/6/2005
Post your comments on this article
Post #: 1
It's ok. - 31/5/2013 7:52:15 PM   
tysmuse

 

Posts: 373
Joined: 24/9/2007
Looks quite good. Soundtrack is as gorgeous as Ronan's blue eyes. Acting is pretty solid all round. Standout moment is when Eleanor is explaining to a teacher how she'll one day prove her story is real. The slow pacing was a bit of an issue for me.

(in reply to Empire Admin)
Post #: 2
RE: Byzantium - 31/5/2013 8:20:03 PM   
R W

 

Posts: 335
Joined: 23/6/2006
For nearly thirty years, the collaboration between Irish director Neil Jordan and English producer Stephen Woolley have led to some great work such as The Company of Wolves, Mona Lisa, and The Crying Game. Having tackled vampires before in 1994 with their adaptation of Anne Riceís Interview with the Vampire, Jordan returns to the world of bloodsuckers, this time centralising the dysfunctional relationship between a mother and her daughter.

When Eleanor (Saoirse Ronan) and her mother Clara (Gemma Arterton) Ė both of which are vampires Ė seek refuge in a run-down coastal resort, they take shelter in the deserted guesthouse, Byzantium. When Eleanor befriends schoolboy Frank (Caleb Landry Jones) and tells him their lethal secret, their past catches up on them with deathly consequence.

At a time when Twilight dominated the vampire craze and continues to be a phenomenon whether you like it or not, Byzantium Ė based on the stage play A Vampire Story by Moira Buffini who is also responsible for the adaptation Ė hearts back to the realm of gothic fantasy which is while gory, it explores themes of womanhood.

The strength of Buffiniís script is the mother and daughter relationship with both women being completely different to one another. While Clara is very rebellious and takes advantage of the men she surrounds herself with and when it gets out of hand she kills, Eleanor is searching for an emotional connection and is tormented by the secret she has to carry, despite writing it on her handbook. These two distinctive women are played beautifully by Gemma Arterton who plays it brass and loud while Saoirse Ronan is more subtle in her performance with her quiet expressions that say it all.

When it comes to this type of dark fantasy, Neil Jordan feels right at home and Byzantium is still proof of it. Unlike the crystal-skinned teenagers in Twilight, this film presents a fresh take to the more classical vampiric figures, such as the fingernails are the lethal weapons instead of fangs, while the transformation from human to vampire is a truly unique process.

Given the source material, Jordan provides really cinematic moments with sequences that blend the past with the present, along with Sean Bobbitís stunning cinematography. While the film is at its best with its moody atmosphere and the intimacy of its characters, it does suffer from the genre conventions, particularly in its latter part where the past comes back to haunt the two women and climaxes in an unnecessary light note.

Despite being advertised as the Twilight for adults, Byzantium isnít quite the drippy teenage angst piece, but is a bloody and satisfying drama on vampires and womanhood, as well as a pleasant return for Neil Jordanís work in gothic fantasy.

(in reply to Empire Admin)
Post #: 3
4 STARS?! - 5/6/2013 10:43:41 AM   
a_man_and_his_monkey

 

Posts: 64
Joined: 1/4/2006
I took my girlfriend to see this last night and I've been left scratching my head as to why it's gotten 4 stars. It's awful. A couple in front of us left after half an hour. I was tempted to follow. The whole thing was just slow and uninteresting. Honestly, this movie is awful.

(in reply to Empire Admin)
Post #: 4
RE: 4 STARS?! - 5/6/2013 9:26:31 PM   
Dr Lenera

 

Posts: 3935
Joined: 19/10/2005

Single mother Clara and her daughter Eleanor are vampires who are constantly on the run, moving from town to town and living on the edges of society. Clara supports them by working as a lap dancer or a prostitute or a madam, while Eleanor struggles with the isolation of their nomadic existence and longs to tell someone their secret Ė they are hundreds of years old and survive by drinking blood, though Eleanor only kills people who wish for death. When they arrive in the decaying seaside town of Hastings, Clara meets Noel, who has inherited a rundown guest house called Byzantium from his late mother. Clara sees the chance to turn the former hotel into a brothel, while Eleanor befriends Frank, a local boy who is quickly smitten by her. But Claraís rules forbid telling their secret or getting emotionally attached to anyoneÖ..

Itís as if Mary Shelley and Edgar Allan Poe had got together and had a strange little child.

Well, any film that boasts that a line like that is worthy of my time in my opinion, but then again I was looking forward to Byzantium for some time. Neil Jordan isnít really considered a Ďhorror directorí, but he has made three films Ė A Company Of Wolves, Interview With A Vampire and In Dreams Ė which are very fine examples of the genre indeed [and yes, I include the incredibly misunderstood and underrated In Dreams, a film which I only had the pleasure of seeing for the first time a few weeks ago and really wondered if I was seeing a different film to what most critics saw]. Well surprise surprise, Byzantium, despite appearing to have had some time getting its release over here in the UK [normally a sign of problems with the film in question], and yet to appear in the States [though it isn't long before it does], is another very impressive excursion into horror. It treads a fine line between the unoriginal and the original, the cliched and the inventive, and, for the most part, pulls it off. Itís also an immensely involving drama that almost brought me to tears, so caught up was I in the story and the plight of the two main characters.

Now ask your average person [and I donít mean this as an insult] to name a vampire film, book or character, and I reckon the first thing they will mention is bloody Twilight, because, for better or worse [well actually for worse, thereís no question about it in my mind], the books and even more so the films have been immensely popular, despite the horrid writing, dreadful plotting, awful acting, etc etc etc, on display. It canít just be teenage girls; in fact, it isnít, going by many conversations I have had with people. Itís often the case that if folk are bombarded with something, are saturated with it, they will grudgingly except it. I do think I speak for most horror fans, and lovers of vampires in general, when I say that Stephanie Meyerís tripe has done considerable damage to the name of bloodsuckers. Now itís not quite true that there hasnít been decent vampire stuff recently. 30 Days Of Night was a lot of fun if somewhat forgettable, Let Me In about as good a remake as one can expect, and a few months I reviewed the very impressive low budget gem Midnight. I also have it on good authority that the TV show True Blood is no travesty either. Therefore I canít really say that Jordanís film restores some quality to the subject, but I do think itís restored some of the Ďreputationí of vampires, even if at the time of writing, itís not going to be any kind of hit.

One of the best things about Byzantium, which is actually based on a play by the screenwriter, is its portrayal of its vampires. These nosferatu combine elements we all know and expect, with some new touches. They still feed on blood, but instead of fangs, all boast a long fingernail with which to draw blood. They donít like walking around in the sunlight much, but are still able to without any trouble. To become a vampire, you donít just get bitten, die and then come back to life. You have to travel to this strange island and undergo a ritual in a shrine where water running down a mountain in fountains turns to blood and hordes of birds fly around in a weird way. There is no mention of stakes or garlic. The vampire order in this film doesnít even seem to accept women. And yet, the film is confident enough to have, for instance, a heroine who calls herself Carmilla and watches Dracula Prince Of Darkness on TV. Itís full of little bits and pieces which will make vampire movie fans to smile in recognition, the atmosphere and even at times the look recall The Hunger, and sometimes the tale seems to be providing variants on situations from Interview With The Vampire [not surprising really], yet none of this sticks out; everything is just an essential ingredient in the filmís melding of the old and the new.

The opening superbly contrasts the worlds of its two main characters. We see Clara performing a lap dance in a sleazy club, being found by someone looking for her, then bloodily killing him and sucking his blood, thereby telling us straight away how she survives and her attitude to being a vampire. She has no bones about mixing with humans, and using them to both get money and feed herself. This alternates with scenes of her daughter Eleanor, who is alone and befriends an old man, who, after [in a really touching moment], showing her photographs of a married woman he loved but never told of this love, realises what she is, and, knowing that his time is soon up, graciously allows her to drink his blood. Eleanor doesnít like the company of humans, and is very sensitive about her vampirism, only willing to feast on people who want death to take them. The rest of the film, more than anything else, is about the frought relationship between mother and very different daughter. Writer Moira Buffini makes sure that itís very hard for the viewer to take sides; the quiet, sensitive Eleanor was initially the character I immensely preferred, but as we get to know more about the more brash and seemingly slutty Clara, I wasnít sure. There are times where she seems very cruel to her daughter, but we also know that she thinks she has Claraís best interests at hand, even if she is somewhat wrongheaded about it.

I would have been content for the film to just follow Clara and Eleanor about Ireland, trying to survive, but it isnít content to do that. Clara starts to set up a brothel and Eleanor forms a friendship with a boy who is slowly dying. Thankfully the latter part is portrayed in an un-mawkish way and I really cared about this relationship. Far more time is actually dedicated to filling in the background story of mother and daughter. We have the potentially awkward device of Eleanor constantly writing it all down and telling her story to various people she thinks wonít believe it, to be the excuse for all the flashbacks. This slightly interferes with the pacing as we almost forget the present day story, but Jordan just about gets away with things like having a flashback within a flashback. The story told is a very compelling and even quite upsetting one when it incorporates child prostitution, while the scenes of the mysterious island have a genuine magical feel, actually benefitting from certain things being rather vague. The film only really goes downhill a little bit towards the end. You will be able to predict most of what will happen: for instance, you know that the pursuers will eventually catch up with their quarry, and that mother and daughter will come to blows. Still, I suppose itís very hard to come up with a truly original finish to something like this.

Despite what you may have read, Byzantium does not stint at the gore, with the red stuff frequently present, most notably in a shocking bit of business with a cheese-wire that reminded me of a certain scene in Nightmare Concert. It certainly wouldnít have been a Ď15í ten years ago with some of its ingredients, though Jordan also knows the value of subtlety and even gets away with vampirism scenes that are intended to be, and succeed in being, touching. Now you wonít be surprised when I say the Best Teenage Actress Of Her Generation is as great as usual. With her wise knowing eyes and slightly haunted features she is really is perfect to play a 200 year old vampire, and the depth of her performance here is enough to make me forgive her being in The Host [though I can't name a single actress who could have made that part into something good]. The surprise for me though is Gemma Artherton, not formerly an actress Iíve rated in any way. She really conveys the hurt that her character carries with her over the centuries, and her brazen attitude that she utilises to try and conceal it. Jonny Lee Miller pops up sometimes in a notable role, though I kept looking for Stephen Rea. I couldnít wait to see what Jordanís usual composer Elliot Goldenthal would do with this material, but instead Javier Navarrete provides the music; the often mournful score is immensely effective and almost made me forget Goldenthal.

Jordan and his cinematographer Sean Bobbitt sometimes employ some nice visual quirks, such as often showing Eleanor through misty or patterned glass to enhance the sense of her isolation. Though it has the odd pacing and story issues and I could have certainly done with a better ending [though I canít at the moment think of what I would have done], I found Byzantium pretty satisfying and, though it certainly isnít necessary, I wouldnít object to a sequel. A shame that the viewers of this film will be less than five percent of the viewers of the last Twilight movie. It is the best vampire film since Let The Right One In.

Rating: 8/10

_____________________________

check out more of my reviews on http://horrorcultfilms.co.uk/

(in reply to a_man_and_his_monkey)
Post #: 5
RE: Byzantium - 7/6/2013 10:10:10 AM   
ChudMonkey


Posts: 130
Joined: 29/7/2007
From: London
Saw this last night and thought it was quite wonderful....beautifully shot to evoke a modern retelling of a classic Gothic tale. Loved the way the film never had to overtly explain the hows and whys it just took you on a enchanting journey as you slowly pieced together the lives of these two anomalies who can't and won't fit into either of the world's that spawned them.
Intelligent and magnificently crafted
4 out of 5

_____________________________

Top 10 of 2013 so far:
1. Mud
2. Philomena
3. Before Midnight
4. The Way Way Back
5. Spring Breakers
6. In The House
7. Django Unchained
8. Only God Forgives
9. Tattoo Nation
10. Iron Man 3

(in reply to Empire Admin)
Post #: 6
A cure for insomnia! - 10/6/2013 1:43:59 AM   
Mulholland Empire

 

Posts: 24
Joined: 28/2/2007
Had the misfortune of going to watch this the other night and was hoping it would be the kick up the backside the vampire genre so badly needs. Instead I was presented with two hours of absolute tedium, this movie has no sense of pace and completely lacks atmosphere. I was bored after twenty minutes and found all the characters to be completely unlikeable. Scenes were unbearably long and the whole writing the life story and piano playing were pretentious beyond belief.
Easily the worst film I have seen this year, avoid! NO STARS!

(in reply to Empire Admin)
Post #: 7
A THOUGHTFUL VAMPIRE MOVIE..... - 8/10/2013 5:05:38 PM   
ROTGUT

 

Posts: 363
Joined: 14/7/2008
Whoever thought that being a vampire could turn out to be such a miserable existence? This is an ”arty” / kitchen sink type horror movie with some committed performances. The standouts are Gemma Arteton and Saoirse Ronan, both of whom convince as the two titular bloodsucking wastrels. Some nice dream like visuals complement a choppy script and some regulation splatter and gore – but the faux pas happy ending seemed like a bit of a cop out considering all that had gone on before. Still worth a look. THREE STARS.


(in reply to Empire Admin)
Post #: 8
A THOUGHTFUL VAMPIRE MOVIE..... - 8/10/2013 5:05:39 PM   
ROTGUT

 

Posts: 363
Joined: 14/7/2008
Whoever thought that being a vampire could turn out to be such a miserable existence? This is an ”arty” / kitchen sink type horror movie with some committed performances. The standouts are Gemma Arteton and Saoirse Ronan, both of whom convince as the two titular bloodsucking wastrels. Some nice dream like visuals complement a choppy script and some regulation splatter and gore – but the faux pas happy ending seemed like a bit of a cop out considering all that had gone on before. Still worth a look. THREE STARS.


(in reply to Empire Admin)
Post #: 9
4stars? - 14/12/2013 2:09:45 AM   
fuzzy1659

 

Posts: 13
Joined: 7/2/2008
From: Ireland
4 stars for this is surely a joke, i could understand 3 maybe due to the cast been solid but 4?! This movie is actually one of only 2 or 3 movies where i went to the cinema based on an impressive empire review&cursed you's as i left the theatre. And i have been reading empire for a decade now. Which actually probably means i shouldn't complain due to all the other great movies i saw based on positive reviews but what can i say i'm a massive moany biatch i guess. How you's could give this 4 stars is beyond me but can be forgiven, whats far more insulting&unforgivable is that you's used the magnificent 'Let The Right One In' in a reference comparison. For shame!

(in reply to Empire Admin)
Post #: 10
4stars? - 14/12/2013 2:10:45 AM   
fuzzy1659

 

Posts: 13
Joined: 7/2/2008
From: Ireland
4 stars for this is surely a joke, i could understand 3 maybe due to the cast been solid but 4?! This movie is actually one of only 2 or 3 movies where i went to the cinema based on an impressive empire review&cursed you's as i left the theatre. And i have been reading empire for a decade now. Which actually probably means i shouldn't complain due to all the other great movies i saw based on positive reviews but what can i say i'm a massive moany biatch i guess. How you's could give this 4 stars is beyond me but can be forgiven, whats far more insulting&unforgivable is that you's used the magnificent 'Let The Right One In' in a reference comparison. For shame!

(in reply to Empire Admin)
Post #: 11
Page:   [1]
All Forums >> [Film Forums] >> Film Reviews >> Byzantium Page: [1]
Jump to:





New Messages No New Messages
Hot Topic w/ New Messages Hot Topic w/o New Messages
Locked w/ New Messages Locked w/o New Messages
 Post New Thread
 Reply to Message
 Post New Poll
 Submit Vote
 Delete My Own Post
 Delete My Own Thread
 Rate Posts


Movie News††|††Empire Blog††|††Movie Reviews††|††Future Films††|††Features††|††Video Interviews††|††Image Gallery††|††Competitions††|††Forum††|††Magazine††|††Resources
Forum Software © ASPPlayground.NET Advanced Edition 2.4.5 ANSI

0.063