Film Review: Byzantium

Byzantium

Neil Jordan’s Byzantium is superb. Gothic mores are placed centre stage in this vampiric tale.

Clara and Eleanor move from place to place; their lifestyles meaning it is tricky to stay in one location for too long. Whilst Clara is more concerned about finding a new home, Eleanor is desperate to tell the story she has held on to for a very long time…

Director Neil Jordan was the perfect choice to execute Moira Buffini’s story. There are definite parallels between Byzantium and Jordan’s earlier Interview with the Vampire: The Vampire Chronicles. Byzantium also concentrates on the detractions of immortality rather than the violence of vampirism. This is not to say, however, that there is a lack of blood.

Byzantium is a very absorbing film. The sense of mystery is potent. Combined with the interesting characters and well-crafted narrative, it makes the film an engaging view. Pacing in Byzantium is good. The narrative is executed finely, feeding the audience Eleanor’s tale bit by bit. Some of the reveals are quite predictable, but this not detract from the overall enjoyment.

Vampire lore is employed and subverted in Byzantium. In spite of the modern setting, hallmarks of the gothic remain in the landscape of the dreary towns and space which Eleanor inhabits. This plays into the overall theme of loneliness.

Jordan’s direction is solid in both the frenetic moments and the more pensive scenes. There is some nice composition throughout the film. Effects are good for the most part; the film is only let down by some artificial-looking colouring.

Performances in Byzantium are strong. Caleb Landry Jones stands out in particular, while Saoirse Ronan is excellent casting as Eleanor. Gemma Arterton is also decent as Clara.

Byzantium is a worthy addition to the vampire canon. The film pays homage to its predecessors whilst putting its own spin on proceedings.