Saoirse Ronan is bloody good at giving life to her undead character.
BYZANTIUM directed by Neil Jordan, written by Moira Buffini, with Gemma Arterton, Saoirse Ronan and Sam Riley. A Mongrel Media release. 118 minutes. Opens Friday (July 12). For venues and times, see Movies. Rating: NNNN
With Twilight finally over, we're not exactly hungering for more vampire movies, but Neil Jordan gives us something to savour in Byzantium, his second stab at the genre.
Jordan's dark, brooding and sensual movie trades the Cruise-Pitt combo (as bachelors on the prowl in Interview With The Vampire) for Gemma Arterton and Saoirse Ronan as women on the run.
Arterton's Clara is the more seasoned vamp, unafraid to work as a prostitute and quick to devour any pimp in her way. Ronan's Eleanor is forever trapped at a pubescent age, clutching notebooks to scribble down emo thoughts that have plagued her for 200 years.
The actors are terrific at giving life to their undead characters. Arterton shines in particular. Her Clara has both a youthful vibrancy and a seen-it-all ruthlessness as she oscillates between guardian and predator.
Jordan occasionally gets bogged down in a convoluted backstory, but efficiently navigates his way through it. He keeps the clever gender-based themes at the forefront while serving up a visual feast in a rich palette of neon hues splashed on deep reds and pitch blacks.