The Gist: After 200 years of running and being hunted by the Brotherhood, vampires Clara and Eleanor seek refuge in the village they left 2 centuries earlier. The pair find sanctuary at a rundown former guesthouse with the sweet and lonely Noel. Eleanor, forever 16, meets sickly Frank and soon finds herself breaking Clara’s code, and tells him the truth about what they are. But the Brotherhood hasn’t stopped their pursuit and death is coming for them.
Vamps & Tramps: Saoirse Ronan (Eleanor); Gemma Arterton (Clara); Caleb Landry Jones (Frank); Sam Riley (Darvell); Jonny Lee Miller (Ruthven)
My Take: I’m always looking for good vampires movies that aren’t steeped in over the top violence or saturated in sex. There’s nothing wrong with sex/violence but there are so many vampire movies that don’t use it wisely. Anyway, that’s my thing about vampire movies; there are tons of them out there but I find it difficult to find ones that I can really get into. Byzantium offers a decent story, good characters and beautiful production. We begin with Eleanor narrating how she writes her story over and over then tosses the pages to the wind because she can never tell anyone her secret. We then meet Clara, her companion, her saviour and her muse for the last 200 hundred years. Clara takes care of them by working as a stripper and prostitute and watching out for the Brotherhood who wants to kill the women. The Brotherhood are the origin of the vampires in this flick and they never allow women to play in their reindeer games.
Clara and Eleanor flee after one of the brotherhood finds them and end up in a coastal town in England which was where Clara came from and became a vampire. She sets to work on the promenade and promptly meets the lonely and too sweet Noel, convincing him to take her and Eleanor in and let them live with him at his run down, former guest house, Byzantium. While Clara sets up her own brothel, Eleanor begins to attend school and meets the sickly Frank, reluctantly becoming enamoured with him and breaking Clara’s code of not revealing their secret. While Clara’s wrath might be fierce it is curbed when the Brotherhood arrive and set on a path to destroy the two female vampires.
Final Thoughts: Alright, so this is a pretty vague review and that is on purpose. Of course there is way more to it but I really enjoyed watching this without having read all about beforehand and I wouldn’t want to ruin it for anyone else. Was it perfect? No but I really liked how it bounced between current era and 200 years ago. I did find that I liked Clara’s story of how she became a vampire and her connection to Eleanor more than watching Eleanor and Frank come together. The movie looked lovely and I liked the two female protagonists. Jonny Lee Miller has a small role and plays the disgusting Ruthven so damn well. The first bit of the flick is slow as we listen to Eleanor but once we start seeing Clara’s story, it picks up and is very enjoyable. This won’t appeal to everyone but I highly recommend it for an interesting story and strong female vampires who overcome being victims by exploiting that victimization.