Twilight Review: Twilight’s Alright

December 16, 2008 by  
Filed under Film Reviews

I was, I admit, dreading this one.

An adaption of a book designed to win over the hearts and minds of fifteen year old girls, in the hands of Catherine Hardwicke, the woman who previously directed the dire Nativity Story (although some hope glimmered with another name on her CV – Thirteen), and Melissa Rosenberg, who wrote Step Up, is not an idea to soothe this critic’s savage breast.

Surprisingly, though, Twilight is not the film I had expected to see. It’s a vampire romance of real subtlety – a sentence I never thought I’d write. Twilight maintains a darkness throughout, without ever becoming overwrought or even too ridiculous, and Robert Pattinson does a remarkable job in making the viewer believe in his super strong, immortal, beautiful vampire. The relationship between Pattinson’s Edward Cullen and Emma Watson lookalike (but not, thankfully, act-a-like) Kristen Stewart’s Bella Swan is packed with moments of real tenderness and doubtthis is the stuff of adolescent dreams, fiercely romantic and suffocatingly important to the two teenagers. I am almost embarrassed to admit that I found myself becoming caught up in their tribulations and rooting for them to come through.

Rosenberg’s script is, at times, a little on the comical side, but more through necessity than anything else. The scene in which Pattinson “comes out” as a vampire wavers between the ridiculous and the sublime as he shows off his abilities, but also the immense control he is exercising so as not to hurt the girl he loves. Whilst the scene taken alone could work without the special effects and vampiric posturing, it is vital to the film as a whole in order to set the boundaries in which Cullen and his fellow supernatural beings are able to operate. Overall, it is a well constructed story, confronting all of the problems one would expect to arise in a human/vampire relationship – self-control and the inability to entirely “relax” (if you get my drift, nudge nudge wink wink) and of one side of the relationship never aging.

The only grating element of Twilight is the bad guys, in particular two vampires who don’t have themselves under control. They suffer from the same affliction that plagued Buffy – absurdity. In a film which is otherwise fairly nuanced, their leering, crouching presence is incongruous. Then again, without the bad vampires there’d be no space for a sequel, so I suppose I can’t complain too much.

Whatever you might think of vampire films, or teen romances, please don’t judge Twilight before you see it. It is a rare gem amongst the general dross of teenage-orientated films. Leave your cynicism at the door, and I dare say you might enjoy it.

By Chris Harding

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