Twilight (12a)By Leigh Mencarini
December 18, 2008
Is it love at first bite?
Teenage girls the world over have developed a blood-lust for a vampire named Edward, thanks to a best-selling novel written by a stay-at-home Mormon mum.
It’s not the typical makings of a blockbuster franchise, but given the hungry anticipation for the film version of Twilight, that matters not one jot.
Author Stephenie Meyer sparked a publishing phenomenon with the first of the Twilight series about Bella (Kristen Stewart), a displaced 17-year-old who moves from Phoenix to the rainy town of Forks, Washington, to live with her father.
Never one to follow the crowd, Bella is intrigued by a beautiful and enigmatic boy in her class.
Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson) is different from the others; he only hangs out with his adoptive brothers and sisters, he speaks like a character in an old movie but, for some reason, he can’t stand to sit next to Bella in biology classes.
Of course, it’s not long before Bella becomes certain of three things about Edward – one, he is a vampire. Two, there is a part of him that thirsts for her blood. And three, she is unconditionally and irrevocably in love with him.
But can the pair’s forbidden bond survive the prying eyes of Forks? And indeed, can Bella survive being anywhere near Edward, who is forced into a frenzy simply by her scent?
While the Cullen family – ‘vegetarian’ vampires who only feast on the blood of animals – are open minded about their son’s new acquaintance, locals with knowledge of native folklore aren’t quite so liberal.
Things get complicated when a group of ‘nomad’ vampires arrive on the scene to hunt for humans. Will they approve of the Cullens’ way of life – to live among their prey?
It’s easy to see why teenage girls relate so well to clumsy misfit Bella, the Peter Parker-type anti-hero swept off her feet by a mysterious stranger. But the real magnet is Harry Potter star Pattinson. His haunted, pale features are none the worse for the fact he’s one of the undead.
His brooding eyes and dazzling, deviant smile set off a myriad of squeals in the cinema.
Director Catherine Hardwicke uses the Forks landscape to represent the mood magically – the dreary, damp weather embodies Bella’s depressive state at the start of the movie, but we’re soon exposed to the outstanding natural beauty of its woodland, beaches and surrounding mountains as the love story develops.
As the 12a certificate indicates, the blood and gore is relatively tame, however Bella and Edward’s first few encounters are almost unbearable to watch; it lingers on the suspense of a first kiss, rather than first bite.
But once the tension fades it’s easier to fall into the plot, which, is by no means constrained to this first instalment.
Despite the best efforts of the climax, it doesn’t really satiate the hunger for more. There’s enough ‘hows’ and ‘whys’ and ‘what nexts’ to keep this story from its grave.