Donate Now to Support KDHX

Listen Live
Saturday, 13 July 2013 17:16

'Byzantium' follows mother and daughter vampires

'Byzantium' follows mother and daughter vampires collider.com
Written by Diane Carson
Rate this item
(0 votes)

About this Media...

Irish writer/director Neil Jordan has a multifaceted, extraordinary body of work, from "The Crying Game" to "Michael Collins," "Breakfast on Pluto" to "The Company of Wolves," plus Showtime's series "The Borgias." His 1994 "Interview with the Vampire" announced his interest in the vampire genre. Now "Byzantium" adds to Jordan's imaginative exploration of diverse topics.

In "Byzantium," mother Clara and her 16-year-old daughter Eleanor flee members of the vampires' heretofore-exclusive brotherhood into which Clara has forced her way 200 years ago with theft of a precious map. With the focus on two women vampires, director Jordan and screenwriter Moira Buffini (adapting her play) boast (in press notes) of creating progressive feminist representations. In fact, they squandered a golden opportunity, for the women collapse into the tired sexist stereotypes of the virgin and the whore.

Throughout the film, Clara using sex to seduce, manipulate, and sometimes kill her male victims, an insult to the men who so easily and stupidly succumb as well as to the women's abandonment of astute intelligence to achieve goals. That's an especially disappointing surrender to sexist ideas given that the women do drive the plot, show resourcefulness and strength, but also desperation and frailty. Given the considerable acting ability of Saoirse Ronan as Eleanor and Gemma Arterton as Clara, it's clear both could handle a challenge beyond the overwrought mother-daughter dynamic. Ultimately, the sexual appeal, insisted upon in dress and action, is at odds with the agency of the women.

Seamlessly interwoven with flashbacks, the story is skillfully presented with these immortals moving about in daylight, sleeping in beds, and foreswearing traditional clichés. "Byzantium" does slyly nod to vampire history, notably invoking Carmilla, the first female vampire. The title comes from the name of a guesthouse where a distraught Noel offers Clara refuge. Adding resonance, the title also invokes the legendary ancient Greek city and William Butler Yeats' poem.

Shallow focus shots dominate Sean Bobbitt's beautiful cinematography, emphasizing the characters. Superb art direction dictates a different look for 19th versus 21st century scenes, and one grisly scene, early in the film, confronts the horror. "Byzantium" adds another chapter to the vampire lore, but it doesn't liberate its women.

At a Landmark Theatre.

Sponsor Message

Become a Sponsor

Find KDHX Online

KDHX on Instagram
KDHX on YouTube
KDHX on SoundCloud
KDHX on Facebook
KDHX on Twitter
KDHX on flickr

KDHX Recommends

May
Thursday
07

Midwest Mayhem presented by KDHX

KDHX proudly presents the 10th Midwest Mayhem, KDHX’s biggest party of the year, sprawling across 600,000 square feet of the famed City Museum. Tons of bands and DJs are scheduled to perform, as well as other wild...


May
Friday
08

New Music Circle presents Tim Berne's Snakeoil

New York-based alto saxophonist Tim Berne has long been regarded as one of the Downtown scene’s most forward thinking bandleaders. Active in New York since 1974, Berne has fostered the creative talent of subsequent...


May
Saturday
09

Brunch at the Stage: JD Hughes

KDHX is now curating a Saturday brunch series at the Stage with live music from local musicians and delicious, locally-sourced food and drinks from the Magnolia Café. Brunch at the Stage takes place from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m....


Online Users

2 users and 14476 guests online
Sign in with Facebook

SYSTEM: S5 Box

Login/My Account

Sign in with Facebook