Friday, 7 June 2013


Clara argues the case for women's rights. 

Going to the pictures in the middle of a weekday still gives me that feeling of delicious naughtiness and to sit in the imposed darkness on a lovely sunny day to watch a British vampire movie makes it seem all the better. On a visit to Edinburgh I decided to watch Irish director and writer Neil Jordan’s latest movie:  Byzantium (2013). Before this he has directed some 16 feature films over a thirty year period building up quite a varied body of work including such memorable films as Mona Lisa (1986), The Crying Game (1992), Michael Collins (1996) and Breakfast on Pluto (2005). His latest film has been written by Moira Buffini, who was also responsible for another Gemma Arterton vehicle Tamara Drewe (2010), and was based on Buffini’s play A Vampire Story. It’s set in of all places (H)astings (it’s a silent H were I come from) on the South Coast of England. Aptly described in the movie as ‘the last place on the road to hell’ and certainly looks like it with its rather sinister burnt out pier.  Not the first British seaside to be as a backdrop to a movie, for example Margate in the Last Resort (2000) and Brighton in Brighton Rock (2010).
Even vampires need mobile phones!
This contemporary vampire tale stars the afore mentioned Gemma Arterton as Clara and Saoirse Ronan as her 16 year old daughter Eleanor, in vampire years there 200 years old, in fact Clara keeps body and soul (do vampires have souls?) together by engaging in one of the oldest professions known to man: prostitution. Mother and daughter end up in the seaside town after they are forced out of London when Clara kills a man who has been hunting them, something to do with the fact that vampire women do not have equal rights with their male counterparts! Seducing a loser called Noel (Daniel Mays) whose mother has just died leaving him a run down sea front hotel called Byzantium, now its all falling into place I hear you say, Clara turns the bankrupt establishment into a successful business, a brothel. Common sense really, lots of rooms with beds! Any way, Eleanor meantime has fallen for leukaemia stricken Frank (ideally cast Caleb Landry Jones who really does look ill) and joins him in his studies, which consequently courses problems. Although Eleanor feeds on blood she only indulges in mercy killings of elderly people and if there was a vampire heaven she would probable end up there. Suffice to say the forces of evil are closing in, in the form of Sam Riley and his coven partner of which I’ll say no more as it will spoil the story for you.
Clara stops for a spot of lunch.
Director of Photography Sean Bobbitt brings to whole thing to life, you may remember Mr Bobbitt from his camera work from such movies as Hunger (2008) Shame (2011) and The Place Beyond the Pines (2012), making the location, the hotel and the pier look ideally spooky. Although it boast’s some great stars, a slightly different approach to this over used genre and some interesting flash backs there’s something missing that I can’t really put my finger on. Perhaps its because it does not really feel that exciting or particularly gripping but it does get better the further into the film you get, so stick with it, unlike one lady who was sharing my midday decadence and walked out!

Don't be put off, theres some great B&B's on the South Coast.


  1. The fact that the woman walked out, proves that she had a total lack of taste.
    It's a somehow special movie that needs a bit of patience. An new way of tackling the old-fashioned vampire genre.
    My thought !