Dir. Neil Jordan
Reviewed by Matt Adcock
Byzantium (bih-zan-tee-uhm) was the ancient Greek city on the site that later became Constantinople (modern Istanbul). It was founded by Greek colonists from Megara in 657 BC... But that has nothing much to do with this movie.
This Byzantium is the name of a hotel in this dark fantasy thriller directed by Neil 'A Company of Wolves' Jordan starring Saoirse Ronan, Gemma Arterton and Jonny Lee Miller.
"Bright lights... dark hearts..."
It's an unhappy tale of a mother Clara (Arterton) and daughter Eleanor (Ronan) who are both vampires - living the blood sucking immortal lives of the undead - feeding on the living and always on the run from some nasty big bad boss vampires who don't believe that female vampires should exist...
The bloody story finds the two vamps end up in a run-down hotel on the English coast but their story begins during the Napoleonic Wars and stretches through time - thanks to some useful flashbacks.
Enter Noel (Daniel Mays) who has just inherited the Byzantium Hotel, a once-thriving inn that has fallen into a sad state of disrepair. Before you can say 'she's only after your blood', Clara has turned The Byzantium into a brothel where she and her young companion can quench their thirst for human blood, make money and keep out of the way of the mean women hating vampires.
"Mount Doom -ish"
Things get a bit complicated when Eleanor falls for local lad Frank (Caleb Landry Jones), a young waiter who has a life threatening disease... Can a mortal and a vampire find a Twilight-ish love?
Also there is the fact that Eleanor is prone to writing her extraordinary life story down and chucking the pages away for anyone to find... And when she writes it up as an essay for a teacher - things go even more pear shaped...
Will the two succubi live in peace or is their destiny to die at the hands / swords of the hunters?
Arterton looks great throughout and gives good sexy vamp - in nice contrast to Ronan who is modest and innocent (despite being a 200 year old vampire who suffered abuse as a child).
The themes of love, eternal life, power and isolation are well worked and overall Byzantuim delivers a thought provoking and engaging watch...
"Even Vampires have to pay the bills"
Out of a potential 5 you have to go with a Darkmatters:
(3.5 - Fangs for the memories!? )
Awesomeness ööö – gets freaky in style
Laughs öö – dark laughter of the bleakest kind
Horror öööö – bloodshed and horror to be found
Babes öööö – Yes Gemma Arterton
Spiritual Enlightenment ö – limited