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Director Neil Jordan (Interview With The Vampire) looks to reclaim the genre from the Twi-hard geeks and the vid-game hordes here with his latest, an excellent gothic yet contemporary bloodsucker reinvention.

Gemma Arterton, a world away from her harmless tease in last outing Tamara Drewe, is Clara, a 200-year-old vampire and whore. Teenaged Saoirse Ronan, who turned down Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit for Jordan’s movie, excels too as her daughter Eleanor (their vampiric pasts explain away this minimal age difference), both hiding out in a British seaside town from mysterious vampires who won’t let them enjoy their eternal life.

But is immortality really to be relished? Jordan and screenwriter Moira Buffini (adapting her own play A Vampire Story) serve up a literary-influenced vampire tale that questions the nature of love and the sacrifices it demands, as well as the merits of never-ending life lived without a soul (this is the sacrifice that must be paid if everlasting youth is to be found). As penance for this, Eleanor refuses to feed on the living, instead feasting on the terminally ill and those who have consented. 

There are new spins on accepted folklore – extending thumbnails aid the sucking of blood – as well as some classic rules (vamps cannot enter someone else’s house without invitation).

Jordan revels in their ferocious, claret-splattered lives, in all their skin-puncturing, decapitating glory, and delivers a moving coming-of-age tale by the end, too. Forget Jacob, Edward and Bella – they’d be torn apart by this lot.

Good for: Sensual, seductive and heartfelt, this is vampires for grown-ups.

Starring: Gemma Arterton, Saoirse Ronan | 15 | 118mins 


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Byzantium - film review: A vampire flick for grown-ups, starring Gemma Arterton and Saoirse Ronan
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