If you are a teenage girl, in love with the romance genre, then Twilight is your Citizen Kane. Not since Stanley Kubrick locked Nicole Kidman and Tom Cruise in a room together for hours and hours in Eyes Wide Shut have we seen more screen time devoted to the relationship of just two people.
Based on the best selling novel by Stephanie Meyer, Twilight tells the story of the deep attraction and constantly unconsummated relationship between two high school students, Bella and Edward. These two star crossed lovers would have little standing in their way were it not for the unavoidable fact that Edward is a vampire.
This conflict, “Will he lover her or will he eat her?” is the core of Twilight, everything else feels tacked on to fill out the movie. On paper this makes Twilight a fairly superficial and thin film. Ancillary characters, like Bella’s father, are thinly drawn and only exist to bridge the gaps between scenes with Bella and Edward. Sub plots involving rival vampires and mysterious murders are completely throw away and again, only serve to connect us to scenes between the two lovers. What Twilight lacks in depth it more than makes up with passion. There’s enough passion in Twilight to fill up an entire series of films. So much so, I fully expect teenage girls to literally swoon after seeing this film.
Robert Pattinson, who is sure to become a ‘teen idol’, plays Edward as a wonderfully pained and brooding character. Pattison’s performance seems to be inspired more by Hamlet and Romeo than Dracula and Angel and his character feels oddly un-vampiric. Kristen Stewart does a solid job playing Bella, the every girl grappling with the attention of a boy so captivating she can’t help but become obsessed with him.
If there’s a third star to Twilight it’s the Pacific Northwest. I can’t recall a film that has celebrated the overcast rainy weather more than Twilight. Oregon and Washington come off stunningly with key scenes shot from tree tops looking across wooded valleys. The Viewpoint Inn, the setting for the finale of the film is also stunning and is sure to become a hot destination for fans of the film.
In many teen oriented romantic films issues of high school politics, popularity, social circles and just ‘fitting in’ tend to dominate.. With Twilight the issues are much more internal. Bella is less concerned with fitting in and more concerned over whether or not she’s done something to keep Edward from loving her. This internal struggle of self confidence in relationships is sure to strike a deep chord with the intended audience especially combined with the deep level of complex and unconsummated teen love.
As a vampire movie, Twilight reinterprets the traditional vampire myth through almost superhero eyes. In the Twilight universe vampires don’t have fangs, aren’t effected by garlic (even a golden one) and don’t burst into flames in the sunlight. The Twilight vampires have more in common with The X-Men than they do with Buffy The Vampire Slayer. At times Edward seems almost celestial despite his constant proclamations to the contrary.
But summing all this into a recommendation is extremely difficult. Twilight is one of those movies where film criticism really doesn’t matter all that much. Odds are audiences are going to make up their minds to see this film based on the novels or at least the popularity of the novels. It’s just one of those movies so connected to the book series there’s no way to really un-teather it.
For my part, I feel that Twilight does one thing well, it captures a passionate romance between teenagers and embodies the highs and lows of that experience. Beyond that I think the film is a little weak. But for the target audience I think it’s going to be more than enough.
I’ve seen much worse than Twilight, but as a parent bringing my pre-teen to a movie I found that it was engaging enough not to be a miserable moving going experience (something I can’t say for many of the films aimed at her demographic).