Byzantium (2012)

Drama, Fantasy, Horror, Thriller
Saoirse Ronan, Gemma Arterton, Sam Riley, Caleb Landry Jones
Residents of a coastal town learn, with deathly consequences, the secret shared by the two mysterious women who have sought shelter at a local resort.
Director Neil Jordan remains as expert as ever when it comes to setting a chilling mood, but Byzantium struggles to match its creepily alluring atmosphere with a suitably compelling story.
  • IFC Films Company:
  • R Rated:
  • IMDB link IMDB:
  • 31 May 2013 Released:
  • 29 Oct 2013 DVD Release:
  • $84.3k Box office:

All subtitles:



Trailer:

Understated masterpiece.10/10
This movie just rocked me. I expected the usual cheesy horror movie.

Lots of blood and of course the fangs.

What I found was a work of art; The richness of the characters and their credibility was hard to fault. The storyline,and of course there was the music.

The atmosphere was enchanting. A work of art; must see this movie. I have seen a few movies in my life, but I do not recall watching them repeatedly.

I cannot put my finger on it, but I suppose this movie just got me.

A
Vampires. But not as we know them!8/10
I have just seen this film as part of the famous Bridport Film Festival called "From page to screen". It features films that have been adapted from books and are very often accompanied, either before or after the screening, by a question and answer session with either the Director, Producer or Author etc. Bridport is in the county of Dorsetshire in the United Kingdom. This pre-release screening of Byzantium was enhanced by a very informative Q&A with the Producer Stephen Woolley. If you are expecting fangs, crucifixes, coffins and garlic prepare to be surprised! These vampires are a new take on a familiar theme. Much of the film is shot on location in the seaside town of Hastings which gives it a fabulously grungy and stark atmosphere. I have to admit that I didn't really want to go and see "another" vampire film. Believe me when I say that this is not just "another" vampire film.
Please, Hollywood, take note...9/10
... This is how to make a vampire film.

I find it difficult to fault this film. The plot is intelligent and engaging. No one is entirely black or white. The heroes are flawed and complicated, the villains, for the most part, have motivation and even sympathy. I found myself rooting for the murderous, vampiric prostitute as much for the innocent girl trapped into releasing those tired of life.

It's really two films, one set 200 hundred years ago, one in the present time, with many of the same characters and the same location, Hastings, once a fishing village, now a tired seaside resort.

The actors are very good, particularly the leads. As a resident of SE England, I recognised many of the locations. The ending was perhaps a little predictable, but still satisfying.

Don't go see this if you like your vampires to sparkle, but if you liked Let The Right One In and gritty drama, go watch it.
Byzantium Review.8/10
Over the course of five years I think it's safe to say the reputation of vampires has been well and truly tarnished. Instead of being blood sucking beasts, audiences seem more interested in watching them make love and glisten in the sunlight, however that's were director Neil Jordan steps in. Admittedly Byzantium isn't the most traditional vampire movie, but that's not a problem, because the end result is a fresh, innovative take on the creatures that may have installed some credibility in the post Twilight era.

Essentially the main-plot of Byzantium follows the mother and daughter duo of Gemma Arterton and Saoirse Ronan. The two continuously move from location to location due to them having to hide their secret that no-one is aware of, however upon seeking refuge at a rundown coastal area, their secret is uncovered, which results in their past calling for blood.

Now as I have said, in the last few years vampires have been getting a hard time. Whenever you see or hear of vampires these days, the first thing that usually comes to mind is that of Robert Pattison. Personally I am not a fan of the Twilight movies and I have to confess I was quite sceptical going into Byzantium, due to the supposed vampire themes. However, I am happy to report that Byzantium is an original, different and genuinely great movie that I would regard as one of my favourite films of the year so far.

The films concept is in my opinion superb. As soon as the film began I was invested. One thing that I liked in particular was that the film showcased rarely a dull moment. It is very well paced and the story is just great, with some rather intriguing flashback sequences being utilised brilliantly to connect all the dots.

Aside from being very well written, the films' setting is another factor as to what makes it so enjoyable. Personally I felt that the run-down coastal setting was just superb. Not only because it sets the tone and feel of the movie, but it just gave it that added creepiness that you would expect from a movie like this.

The cinematography is very good and in terms of visuals I think the film was one of the best looking that I have seen in a long time. Understandably the mood is very dark and occasionally quite Gothic, but again, not only is the seaside primitive in establishing that, some of the other locations really are just as good.

Aside from Jordan's fantastic direction, the thing I liked most about Byzantium was the acting from its two leading ladies. Beginning with Saoirse Ronan, as we all know she is a fantastic young actress who very rarely fails to come up with the goods. In this movie she is playing quite a reserved, intellectual who is quiet but intriguing nonetheless, whereas her on screen mother portrayed by Gemma Arterton is the exact opposite. Now I think it would be unfair to compare the two because although they are both playing vampires, they are very different characters to say the least. There's no two ways around it, Ronan is genuinely great in this movie, but I thought the real star of the show was Gemma Arterton, who I felt was absolutely fantastic. In my opinion Arterton showed a very different side to her normal self in this movie. Whilst I wouldn't go as far as saying the role was too demanding, I have never seen her play a part like this, and honestly I think she should do it more often, because it has shown a massive amount of versatility on her part.

In terms of chemistry Ronan and Arterton work wonders on screen and if it wasn't for their performances I honestly think that this movie would have panned out very differently. So in terms of casting I think it's a job well done.

This really isn't the type of film that you're going to forget in a hurry. Personally I could watch it again and that really is saying something, as I rarely watch something more than once, however with that being said one final thing that I would like to touch upon would be the musical score.

Again this was another key factor in establishing the look and feel of the film and it really worked. This is a rare movie where everything just blends simultaneously and for that reason alone I most certainly feel it's worth investing two hours in.

Byzantium is a great movie that really makes me feel passionate as a critic. In a year where films have been slightly hit and miss, this film is definitely a hit. It has a great vision and knows exactly what it wants to be. Supported by two stand out performances this is British-Irish film-making at its near best and as I stated it is one of my favourite films of the year so far.

8.5/10

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Takes you back to the times when vampires were considered monsters9/10
Although not well advertised and distributed, this movie actually is a piece of true art. It returns to the roots of the vampire genre, but unlike Twilight or the more action-oriented alternatives, this one has a very adult take on it.

Although it has a fair share of action and blood, this movie really is not for those who expect exciting, thrilling and spectacular fight scenes. More like Interview With a Vampire, the movie concentrates a lot more on understanding these beings. Throwing some of the vampire's newborn traits away (sparkling in the sunlight eh?) and turning them into "Sucrient"-s, the movie revolves around how these creatures find their means of survival and how they deal with the price they pay for it.

Many critics say that the movie is too long and slow paced, which is true, but that's actually one of the reasons what makes it work. The scenes, the music, the characters all give you a dark, twisted, gripping and uncertain feeling. The slow-pacedness of the movie adds the sense of being lost, the sense of being empty to all of it.. which might make you uneasy, but by the end you will realize this is how the characters themselves feel like. You are made to feel uneasy, because it's necessary to be able to understand them.

...and although there are several quite good acting performances in Byzantium, by "them" I now think about Clara (Gemma Arterton) and Eleanor (Saoirse Ronan). Their characters are very different, but are also very interesting and more importantly: very well played. Saoirse Ronan does a perfect job in giving you the Eleanor whom you both understand and don't understand at the same time, an Eleanor whom you love and still are afraid of. Then there's Gemma Arterton who brings her best performance ever to the screen, giving you a cruel, wicked and wretched Clara who soon turns out to be so much more than what they call her...

There are quite a few vampire stories out there already, yet Byzantium achieves to be a unique pearl among all of them. Its dark feeling, interesting characters and slow storytelling do require a specific audience - people who like to listen and be mesmerized. If you feel like one, Byzantium is a must-see for you.