Neil Jordan loves a myth. His best movies (The Crying Game, Mona Lisa, The Company of Wolves) are dreamy fairy tales with one toe in reality. The sensual and stunningly beautiful Byzantium continues this tradition.
The film concerns two vampires who’ve been on the run for two centuries and opens with two murders that neatly summarise our heroines’ characters. Clara (Arterton) is an old-school, Hammer-style vamp: sexy, violent and handy with a cheese wire. Elenor (Ronan), an ethereal 200-year-old trapped in a teenage body, would be more at home in Twilight's emo-universe. When she feeds it’s to euthanise the termanally ill. This is probably what initially draws her to the peely-wally Frank (eccentrically played by Jones), with whom she begins a wistful romance.
Byzantium is more interesting in Clara’s company, however. Jordan sporadically flashes back to a fascinating origin story that imagines her as an immortal suffragette born into a chauvinistic brotherhood of the undead. The film often meanders, but these delicious moments of surprise and invention more than compensate. [Jamie Dunn]