Byzantium

User Score
7.3

Generally favorable reviews- based on 63 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 42 out of 63
  2. Negative: 2 out of 63

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User Reviews

  1. Jul 16, 2013
    6
    A vampire mother and daughter escape to a seaside village, where they struggle to continue their anonymous existence. While mom (Gemma Atherton) establishes a brothel to make money, the daughter (Saoirse Ronan) expresses her desire to tell the truth with lots of flashbacks into their "making." This is not an effects-laden horror flic. They don't have any superhuman powers or even fangs.A vampire mother and daughter escape to a seaside village, where they struggle to continue their anonymous existence. While mom (Gemma Atherton) establishes a brothel to make money, the daughter (Saoirse Ronan) expresses her desire to tell the truth with lots of flashbacks into their "making." This is not an effects-laden horror flic. They don't have any superhuman powers or even fangs. It's a somber drama that takes it's time, but in the hands of director Neil Jordan (The Borgias,The Crying Game, Interview with the Vampire) it develops into a compelling climax. Expand
  2. Sep 3, 2013
    4
    If at first you think the story Byzantium tries to tell is a little too thin, it's because it is and Director Neil Jordan tries everything in his arsenal to slow things down but that just makes this unoriginal picture boring as well. When mysterious women Clara (Gemma Arterton) and Eleanor (Saorise Ronan) move to a quiet coastal town they bring with them death and destruction as a shroudedIf at first you think the story Byzantium tries to tell is a little too thin, it's because it is and Director Neil Jordan tries everything in his arsenal to slow things down but that just makes this unoriginal picture boring as well. When mysterious women Clara (Gemma Arterton) and Eleanor (Saorise Ronan) move to a quiet coastal town they bring with them death and destruction as a shrouded in darkness group hunts them for something Clara did years prior. Jordan who previously worked on vampire tale Interview with the Vampire takes a different approach with this story of the blood sucking creatures as it flits from present to past to tell the simplistic and oftentimes pretentious story of these two women. In fact the film spends so much time swapping time periods that the film never builds any momentum and the glimpses into their pasts get less interesting as the film goes on. Byzantium however is more interested in telling a simple story well, an admirable idea but in doing so fail to grip its audience, Jordan does create an interesting world but its one so bleak and miserable that the ending which should real as hopeful is just bizarre. Ronan and Arterton who are stuck with an uninventive script make the most of it and Arterton especially stands out as she makes Clara a tragic yet brutal vixen, a born manipulator whose a real joy to watch when she really gets going, something this film rarely shows, Ronan who is consistently good in everything it seems is memorable as the shy, afraid of her own shadow Eleanor yet the two together lack the kind of chemistry expected meaning a key aspect of the film is missing It's a depressing film with a long arduous run time that did not keep me interested because of its insistence to tell what was ultimately a generic vampire story. Expand
  3. Sep 7, 2015
    6
    A mother and daughter, who happen to be vampires, struggle to maintain anonymity while also struggling with the perils of being a vampire and falling in love. There are a lot of flashbacks to relate the story of the creation of Clara (Gemma Arterton) and her subsequent creation of Eleanor (Saorise Ronan). Eleanor struggles with identity and new love, while Clara struggles with parenting aA mother and daughter, who happen to be vampires, struggle to maintain anonymity while also struggling with the perils of being a vampire and falling in love. There are a lot of flashbacks to relate the story of the creation of Clara (Gemma Arterton) and her subsequent creation of Eleanor (Saorise Ronan). Eleanor struggles with identity and new love, while Clara struggles with parenting a rebellious teenager and keeping them safe from a looming secret.

    It's a beautifully dark and brooding film, which comes as no surprise with Neil Jordan (Interview with a Vampire) at the helm. But where Interview was rich and developed, with drama and tension in the relationships it simmered up over its meandering course, Byzantium is flat, lifeless, and thin for most of its two hour running time, picking up speed and becoming interesting JUST before the credits roll.

    Despite good casting, good performances, excellent cinematography, and a cool vampire mythos, there just isn't enough story here to drive a movie. If you're really into vampires you might dig it. Otherwise, you'll be fine without.
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Metascore
66

Generally favorable reviews - based on 22 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 16 out of 22
  2. Negative: 1 out of 22
  1. Reviewed by: Michael O'Sullivan
    Jul 11, 2013
    63
    The joke seems to be that in 2013, it’s hard to teach an old bloodsucker new tricks. Still, Byzantium has a few moves that might surprise you. They have nothing to do with blood, but everything to do with the heart.
  2. Reviewed by: Bill Goodykoontz
    Jul 4, 2013
    70
    Jordan’s tone is consistently drab and morose, which is fitting enough, but the story drags a bit, bouncing back and forth in time in a manner that is sometimes useful, sometimes not. Overall, though, it’s an intriguing addition to the genre.
  3. Reviewed by: Kyle Smith
    Jun 28, 2013
    25
    Neil Jordan’s Byzantium dares to rework “Twilight” with twice the teen moping and Robert Pattinson replaced by a guy with the sexual magnetism of a sickly Ron Weasley.