Directed by Neil Jordan, Byzantium follows modern-day mother and daughter vampires, Clara (Gemma Arterton) and Eleanor (Saoirse Ronan), who seek refuge in a run-down coastal resort. When Noel (Daniel Mays) provides shelter in his deserted guesthouse, Byzantium, Eleanor befriends Frank (Caleb Landry Jones). But their secret, that they were born 200 years ago and survive on human blood, doesn’t stay hidden for too long, as their past soon catches up on them with deathly consequences.
From the director of Interview With A Vampire, Byzantium is an excellent return to the vampire genre. Not only is it brilliant to see two females in the lead of this fantasy drama, but it’s interesting to see this unique exploration around the mythology. The story is this films strongest quality, and I’m surprised the screenplay hasn’t been adapted from a novel because of how in-depth it is.
Dark and violent, which is expressed brilliantly through stunning visuals and a gothic atmosphere, Byzantium also has a strong focus on the mother/daughter relationship. When a film relies so heavily on its characters’ story and developments it’s important to have this level of focus but it’s also a quality often easily neglected. Nevertheless, both Saoirse Ronan and Gemma Arterton excel in their roles, and they have a great chemistry which makes their relationship powerful and engaging. Caleb Landry Jones has a lovely supporting role, too.
Byzantium is set to be released on DVD on 23rd September.