I went to see this on opening night, though this first impression is delayed, and came away with the sense that this is a film taking from both the modern and the past, familiar and yet something new. For instance there are scenes from the early 19th century that carry exactly the atmosphere as I would want to see in a serious attempt to film Polidori’s the Vampyre. This is not accidental and the clue is within the two characters Ruthven (Jonny Lee Miller, Dracula 2001 and Dark Shadows) – whose name is correctly pronounced, in film, as Riven – and Darvell (Sam Riley) who shares the protagonist’s name from Byron’s Fragment of a Novel.
|Gemma Arterton as Clara|
|in the cairn-like structure|
|mother and daughter|
Unfortunately, the theatre was virtually empty when I went to see the film. There was me and my son and then one couple. The couple walked out halfway through. Clearly the film didn’t have what they were looking for and it is a film that concentrates on character and story, rather than action. As I suggested, the film has a romance, but it is dysfunctional, bumbling and hardly an epic sweeping tale designed to impress tweens. It has vampires but all neo-gothic trappings are thrown to the side (there is, as I have indicated, a Byronesque feel but it is 19th century gothic not our post-modern sub cultural version) and instead we get the decay of an urban seaside town. There is also a hint of David Lynch in some of the shots, especially the Byzantium sign.
The film is not Neil Jordan’s finest film but it is still a very good Neil Jordan movie and such a movie is always welcome. I really did enjoy it and, perhaps surprisingly, so did my son. In my opinion, a film that is definitely worth catching. The imdb page is here.