19 November 2008

At the movies: Twilight.

Working from the first book in author Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight Quartet, director Catherine Hardwicke (Lords of Dogtown, The Nativity Story) has crafted a moody and atmospheric tale of womanhood and burgeoning desire. Teenage Bella (Kristen Stewart, from Panic Room and The Safety of Objects), uprooted from Phoenix and spending the year with her father in the perpetually overcast Forks, Washington, finds herself drawn to the mysterious Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson, current subject of teenage girl riots throughout the country). Drawing on the universal themes of awakening desire, familial upheaval, and collective racial guilt, Meyer and Hardwicke present a new variation on the time-told legend of the blooddrinker. These vampires don’t avoid the sun because it brings death to them, but rather because it makes them glitter like Ziggy Stardust-era David Bowie; naturally, they’ve settled in the Pacific Northwest. As always, Hardwicke knows how to get mood exactly right, as always, her grasp on the story is a little bit tenuous. It’s still refreshing, though, to see a film that understands that a heartfelt statement of commitment during a slow dance at the Prom is just as (if not more) important than a climactic showdown with lots of special effects. Major points for a left-of-field use of Muse’s “Supermassive Black Hole,” the return of Sarah (24’s Nina Meyers) Clarke, and for Billy Burke’s turn as Bella’s father, who shows that all the puncture wounds and nonconsensual blood donations in the world aren’t nearly as painful as a cruel turn of phrase from the past.

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