BYZANTIUM (2012) Reviews and overview

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Byzantium is a 2012 Irish-British-American horror feature film directed by Neil Jordan (Interview with the Vampire; The Company of Wolves). The movie stars Saoirse Ronan, Gemma Arterton and Jonny Lee Miller.



Clara and Eleanor and have fled the scene of a violent and bloody crime and they’re now looking for refuge at a run-down resort somewhere on the British coastline.


Clara (Arterton), ever-practical, sells her body. She soon meets shy and lonely Noel (Miller), who provides a roof over their heads in his seedy guesthouse, Byzantium. Clara, always looking towards the future, turns it into a ‘pop-up’ brothel.


Meanwhile Eleanor (Ronan), the eternal schoolgirl, meets Frank, a kindred spirit who unwittingly prompts her to tell the truth about her life. She tells him that Clara is her mother; yet Clara is only a few years older. She says that she was born in 1804; yet she is just sixteen. She confesses that she must drink human blood to stay alive – and so must her mother. In the small, quiet town, people start to die…

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Byzantium is beautifully shot by Sean Bobbitt, slickly edited, and has that moody, drifty feel of Neil Jordan’s earlier films, that sympathy for deviance rather than instinct for horror. As a sketch of life on the margins in a tatty seaside resort, it works well enough. As an action pic, though, it’s just too slow, too long.” London Evening Standard


“The film manages to provide a great mix of melancholy and humor, and it’s the strong performances of both female leads that make it successful. Although Byzantium is a tale about vampires, it primarily deals with the damaging decisions people choose that affect their children and the heartbreaking sacrifices they make in order to keep them safe…” Dread Central

“Neil Jordan directs with energy if not much finesse; characters keep conveniently bumping into one another, and flashbacks to a forsaken island with blood-red waterfalls are awkwardly shoehorned into the narrative … It ends, appropriately, with a car-crash, a beheading, and a possible answer to who burnt down Hastings Pier.” The Independent


Details are thrown around haphazardly, making everything feel more messy than cohesive and generally involving. Sure, it looks nice and is an agreeably welcome break from the Twilight scene, yet Jordan’s latest simply can’t hold a candle to any above average genre entry and is forgettable as such.” Sound on Sight


“The brooding, doomed tone is also spot-on […] Alas, the themes of good vampires versus bad and teenage rebellion, plus some flashbacks that really pull you out of the action, make for a film more frustrating than frightening.” Scottish Daily Record

Cast and characters:

  • Saoirse Ronan as Eleanor Webb
  • Gemma Arterton as Clara Webb
  • Sam Riley as Midshipman Darvell
  • Jonny Lee Miller as Captain Ruthven
  • Daniel Mays as Noel
  • Caleb Landry Jones as Frank
  • Tom Hollander [uncredited] as Kevin
  • Maria Doyle Kennedy as Morag
  • Warren Brown as Gareth
  • Thure Lindhardt as Werner
  • Uri Gavriel as Savella
  • Kate Ashfield as Gabi
  • Barry Cassin as Robert Fowlds

Technical details:

  • 118 minutes
  • Dolby Digital | Datasat
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35: 1

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