Byzantium: Vampiric Epic

Entertainment Byzantium Movie Preview Review Film
Gemma Arterton and Saoirse Ronan star as an immortal mother and daughter pair

What happens when two mysterious women flee a violent crime scene to seek refuge in a dilapidated hotel? More blood and secrets start to flow

Two mysterious women seek refuge in a run-down coastal resort after fleeing the scene of a violent crime. They try to find money and refuge along the tawdry seafront and in the dilapidated hotels.

Clara (played by Gemma Arterton) meets lonely Noel (played by Daniel Mays), who provides shelter in his deserted guesthouse, Byzantium. Schoolgirl Eleanor (Saoirse Ronan) befriends Frank (Caleb Landry Jones) and tells him their lethal secret.

The mother and daughter pair was born 200 years ago, and they survive on human blood. As knowledge of their secret spreads, their past catches up on them with mortal consequence.

Vampiric Inspiration

Moira Buffini, the playwright and screenwriter behind the recent Jane Eyre movie, had been toying with the idea of writing a vampire story. The unique mother-daughter storyline also excited producer Elizabeth Karlsen.

“A mother’s relationship with her teenage daughter is raw with emotion of the best and worst kind. There’s adolescent angst and loathing which competes with parental despair and longing for the innocence of youth,” says Karlsen.

“When the child is 16 and the mother a beautiful 24-year-old, the natural order is turned on its head. A fantastic, twisted and confused relationship takes its place. It is at once familiar yet totally alien,” she adds.

A Unique female role

Gemma Arterton says of her role as Clara, “It is everything I have wanted to do. You don’t tend to find scripts for women like this. Moira Buffini, the writer, is amazing. There aren’t many female screenwriters but she writes films for women.”

She adds, “Continually, I read scripts where the woman is there to serve the man in some way, or to make him look better, his support. In this, it is total subversion. The men are the prey, the weak ones.”

Karlsen says, “I hope that the audiences see what I see — a hugely original and unique piece. It is visually and emotionally poetic, with two women at its centre who are together intelligent, strident, stunning, strong and utterly, completely compelling.”

“It is a vampire film like we have never seen before,” she says.

Director Neil Jordan is the writer and director of the popular series, The Borgias.

Byzantium [M18]

Director: Neil Jordan
Starring: Saoirse Ronan, Gemma Arterton, Jonny Lee Miller & Sam Riley
Genre: Drama, Fantasy, Thriller
Run Length: 118 min
Release: Oct 10