Coming to theatres this Friday from director Neil Jordan and IFC Films is a tale of secrets and pasts with BYZANTIUM.
This film tells the story of Eleanor (Saoirse Ronan), a teenage girl with a past she cannot escape from. Clara (Gemma Arterton) takes care of Eleanor by dancing in clubs to raise money to keep them going.
While in school Eleanor meets Frank (Caleb Landry Jones), a young man who feels equally out of place but clearly for different reasons. Clara meets Noel (Daniel Mays), a lonely young man who has recently lost his mother. She plays into that sympathy to discover he has a run down hotel called Byzantium where they can live in.
The truth is – Eleanor and Clara are vampires and have been wandering for over 200 years. Eleanor begins to unravel the secrets of who her father is and how the histories of two men Darvell (Sam Riley) and Ruthven (Jonny Lee Miller) will finally come to an unexpected conclusion.
As Eleanor and Frank get closer, the young girl feels comfortable enough to tell him the story of both women’s past. What she doesn’t expect is the spreading of the secret that forces the women to do what is necessary to survive.
FINAL WORD: Ronan has the demeanor and look to play the role of the young undead Eleanor. There are moments where it is hard to believe she is playing an immortal when everything about her is exactly what a ‘normal’ teenager would go through. Her quiet, retrospective moments are so heartbreaking to watch and when her trust is betrayed there is a powerful ‘human’ response of pain.
Arterton as Clara gets the chance to really get into this character. Clara is a hard person who does what it takes to survive and has been an immortal for so long her human traits are waning. Arterton captures that loss of humanity and its shows in every look and move she makes.
Mays as Noel is the saddest of persons until he gets to know Eleanor. Seeing her sadness gives him a chance to feel needed. Wanting to be the savior of these two women he instead becomes trapped but what he thought he needed.
Riley as Darvell is handsome, mysterious and keeping his eyes open watching everything that goes on around him. Following a brotherhood ‘code’ is important but knowing he has a chance for companionship begins to become more important than any code.
Jones as Frank is the most sickly looking character I’ve seen in a long time. I’m not quite sure why he felt the need to do the things he did, other than perhaps to fit in, but even then fit in where? Mays character kept me guessing. Not I’m not going to be more specific, I want you to see the film!
Other cast include: Tom Hollander as the teacher, Maria Kennedy as Dorag, Barry Cassin as Robert Fowlds, Warren Brown as Gareth, Thure Lindhardt as Werner and Uri Gavriel as Savella.
TUBS OF POPCORN: I give BYZANTIUM four tubs of popcorn out of five. It is amazing to watch these characters break many of the stereotypes of being an immortal. From daylight to crying to the thumbnails and limited super powers this film puts a huge dent into what most viewers have seen. I applaud this loudly because it’s original, refreshing and adds intense interest to the story.
I do wish there was more told about the brotherhood because my interest is peaked. Other than that I loved the look of the film with the rain, the water and the darkness. The women living in less than stellar conditions and having to actually make a living to survive give the story a reality check. Totally shattering the previous impression that all immortals are wealthy and sit around doing nothing but drinking blood.
The story itself starts out slowly as the back-story is being laid out for what will happen later in the film. This film is not about blood and gore, it’s about the reality of being an immortal. I adore period pieces so when the dresses start flowing and the men are all prim and proper I’m there!
In the end – irresistible, immoral, immortal!
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