Byzantium Blu-ray Review

  • Actors: Gemma Arterton, Saoirse Ronan, Sam Riley, Jonny Lee Miller, Daniel Mays
  • Director: Neil Jordan
  • Writer: Moira Buffini
  • Producers: William D. Johnson, Sam Englebardt, Stephen Woolley, Alan Moloney, Elizabeth Karlsen
  • Format: Blu-ray, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • Rated: R
  • Studio: MPI HOME VIDEO
  •  Release Date: October 29, 2013
  • Run Time: 118 minutes


            Byzantium is like Twilight with more brutality, or Let the Right One In (or Let Me In, for you English-only film viewers) with more teen angst. However you examine it and whatever recent vampire film you most associate it with, Byzantium has few new ideas to be brought to the vampire genre. What it does have is a strong visual style and narrative with the kind of focus which could only come from a director such as Neil Jordan. However unoriginal much of the material may be, it is done with such confident filmmaking that it is easy to get swept up in yet another vampire love story.


            This contemporary gothic thriller follows the exploits of a pair of female vampires as they hide out in a former hotel resort called Byzantium. Clara (Gemma Arterton) and her forever teenage daughter Eleanor (Saoirse Ronan) are constantly on the run from someone chasing them, leading to endless new homes. Eleanor has grown tired of the routine they have carried out for 200 years, and finally begins to discover the truth about her mother. Clara is a compulsive liar, hiding the truth about their reasons for running.


            The running must end when the past finally catches up with Clara, allowing Eleanor to finally find out the truth behind her existence and the past which gave her eternal life. At the same time that she is coming to terms with her past, Eleanor meets a young boy with an illness and is able to imagine a future for herself without the turmoil brought on by Clara. Byzantium is not Jordan’s best film, perhaps not even his most impressive vampire movie, but it is far better than a majority of imitators out there these days. There are enough visually satisfying moments within  the film to overcome any narrative weakness.

            The Blu-ray includes only a few interviews and the theatrical trailer as a disappointing lack of extras.  


    Entertainment Value: 8/10

    Quality of Filmmaking: 7.5/10

    Historical Significance: 7/10

    Disc Features: 4/10



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