Seeing as I run a site devoted to The Host and the main character is played by Saoirse Ronan, Byzantium has been on my radar for a while. Saoirse Ronan filmed Byzantium prior to shooting The Host. There has been one clip released of the film, some images, and a poster. Today, the international trailer came online for the film, and it has me anticipating the film even more than before. Ronan and Gemma Arterton play mother/daughter vampires. The film goes back to the earlier days when Arterton’s character was “younger,” but also visits present day. I got goosebumps towards the end of the trailer. Even though this isn’t a HD version of the trailer, it is still quite spectacular.
The film is directed by Neil Jordan who did Interview with a Vampire and The Crying Game. Moira Buffini (2011’s Jane Eyre) wrote the screenplay. The film also stars Sam Riley, Jonny Lee Miller, Daniel Mays, Caleb Landry Jones, Kate Ashfield, Maria Doyle Kennedy, Uri Gavriel, and Thure Lindhardt. The synopsis below is from the TIFF website, and it is very detailed. It describes the two female vampires as sisters, but in other summaries of the film, they have been described as mother and daughter.
“Seventeen years after Neil Jordan first dipped into the vampire genre with Interview With the Vampire, his Byzantium proves that he has lost none of his taste for the bloody and Gothic. Drenched in a rich, suitably gloomy atmosphere, Jordan brings a crystalline vision to bear on this story of two female vampires who wreak havoc on an unsuspecting English seaside community, as the film fluctuates between gory mayhem and melancholic reflection.
Eleanor (Saoirse Ronan) is a precocious girl with a bent for storytelling. A natural introvert, her idea of a good time is to put pen to paper and reflect on her inner life. Her “sister” Clara (Gemma Arterton) is the complete opposite: extroverted and sexual, she struts around in stilettos and skin-tight garb, attracting hungry male gazes wherever she goes. Both carry secrets from deep in their shared past — all 200 years of it — which bubbles to the surface as Jordan wends his way through the twists and turns of the plot. It turns out that Clara was involved in a passionate love affair during the Napoleonic Wars, while at the same time Eleanor was abandoned as a child. In the present, both seek to preserve their secret from their unsuspecting new companions. Eleanor falls for a sweet young waiter (Caleb Landry Jones), while Clara settles on a homey, unsuspecting man (Daniel Mays) who has just come into an inheritance: the Byzantium Hotel, which has seen better days. The fun begins as Eleanor and Clara shack up in the hotel, feeding off their victims while attempting to stay one step ahead of their pursuers, who are hot on the duo’s trail after Clara rather violently disposes of a particularly seedy pickup.
The story is wild, the effects are stunning, the gore is plentiful and the actors are game: the wide-eyed Ronan — no stranger to playing deadly adolescents after her role as a teenage assassin in Hanna — is sublime as the wallflower Eleanor, while Arterton vamps it up in true Barbara Steele fashion. Jordan surpasses himself in the look he creates, mixing haunting, musty, ochre interiors and a nocturnal palette of blacks and greys with brightly lit daytime scenes and historical reconstructions. Seductive, sadistic and elegantly depraved, Byzantium is an unabashedly stylish addition to a timeless genre.”
There is no U.S. release date for Byzantium yet, but IFC Films bought the film after it showed at TIFF.
by Sarah Ksiazek