With sales of novelist Stephenie Meyers’s vampire romance saga escalating towards a phenomenon, this adaptation reaches cinemas with a core audience ready and waiting (low-teenage girls, judging by the crowd at the screening). Protagonist Bella Swann (Kristen Stewart) is presumably the point of identification. Sent to live with her dad in small-town Washington state, she’s the archetypal new girl. Neither geeky outsider nor social magnet, she hardly dares to dream that resident enigmatic hunk Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson) would give her a second glance. However, it turns out he’s as smitten as she is, but theirs is destined to be a complicated relationship, since he’s a hundred-year-old bloodsucker whose powers of restraint are sorely tested by her mere presence. One snog and he might rip out her throat …
It’s hard not to read this as some slightly sinister metaphor for the perils of fornication and the wonders of abstinence, yet at the same time there is something tantalisingly swoony about impossibly elusive gratification. With brooding mist-wreathed mountains an effective backdrop, the key performers strike sparks from the electric tension of not-quite-kissing, though it’s soon obvious that there’s nowhere else for the story to go. Given the tween-accessible rating, blood-drenched carnage isn’t an option, and neither the fey, pale-faced vampire clan nor the mild final-reel pursuit carry a significant degree of threat. Some will find it all too polite, but compared to rival blockbuster exercises in explosive CGI mayhem, its character-based index of longing and protectiveness at least provides a viable alternative moodscape.
|Release date:||Thursday November 19 2009|
Cast and crew