I watched the film because: 1. It has vampires in it, 2. It’s listed on a “what should I watch on Netflix” list, 3. It’s feminist.
Yes, Byzantium has it all: the angst you would expect from a 200 year-old vampire, very Anne Rice like. If you like Interview with a Vampire, then you’ve got to watch Byzantium.
The film follows Eleanor, a vampire who is frozen within her teen years. She follows and devours those who are about to die. Often times her victims see her as an angel setting them free from life; most of her victims are elderly. She lives with her mother Clara, who masquerades as Eleanor’s sister since they both appear very young. In order to make ends meet, Clara is and has been a prostitute for her entirety as a vampire.
Clara’s existence is taboo: being female and vampire doesn’t happen. More than that, she procreate and had Eleanor, thus continuing to defy to rule among the vampires that females cannot create. (I personally find it interesting that there’s this foil society to human society. Females create in human society and are sometimes forced to do so without autonomy options that are even quickly depleting within western societies. So why is it they cannot create within vampire society? Given the past setting, is it because we continue to refuse to trust women? The mindset doesn’t change with the passing times either).
The film displays a lot of blood, but it wasn’t too gruesome for me (I do not handle gore well). It also includes a love story which never felt trite or cheap. I thought it gave great dynamic to Eleanor. Eleanor is constantly tortured with her true story; she cannot pretend as her mother does, and hardly condones her mother’s actions in order to survive. Eleanor is tired of being silenced and she wants to expose herself for what she is. Of course, this does not go over well and puts her and Clara at risk.
Byzantium has a great pace to it and you won’t want to mosey onto something else. From the first scene it gripped me and I didn’t get distracted at all. It gives us insight to the female plight and politics, to autonomy and morality. It creates two characters who are both unique and independent in their own ways. Clara and Eleanor are both fully fleshed characters; they are the protagonists and they are not overshadowed by male counterparts.
5/5 from me. Go watch it on Netflix now.