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Year: 2013 
Running Time:
Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1 (Scope) 
Certificate: BBFC 15 Cert – Not suitable for under 15s 
Subtitles: This film is not expected to be subtitled, though this cannot be guaranteed. 
Directed by Neil Jordan 
Starring: Saoirse Ronan, Gemma Arterton, Caleb Landry Jones  
An image from Byzantium

Vampire movies seem to be all the rage these days, but even if you’re getting sick of the supernatural, Byzantium is sure to tick some of your boxes. No sparkly vampires here; instead this original picture stars Gemma Arterton and Saoirse Ronan as a mother-and-daughter duo who struggle to deal with the pitfalls of eternal life.

The story begins with the two women hunting for money and shelter in a resort town on the south coast of England. Clara (Arterton) is the older of the two, and when we meet her she is working in a grubby nightclub, rigged out in stockings and a bustier. Her younger, mousier relative is Eleanor (Ronan), who scribbles secrets in her diary before tearing out the pages and casting them out the window.

The interesting subplots of the film twist and turn together, with Clara becoming the love interest of local inn-owner Noel (Daniel Mays) and Eleanor finding a trusted confidante in the young Frank (Caleb Landry Jones). The pair’s secrets are revealed in a swirl of reminiscence, and their melodramatic 200-year history, in all of its darkness, becomes apparent.

Neil Jordan, who directed the star-studded Interview With a Vampire in 1994, pulls this sexy and stylish fantasy thriller off to perfection. The film contains beautiful and haunting imagery, and packs much more weight than any other recent cinematic foray into vampirism.

Kat Sroga

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Screenings of this film:

2013/2014 Autumn Term (digital)