Neil Jordan’s return to the vampire thriller feels a bit like a yo-yo. It ranges from excellent while held in the hand to incredibly dull while close to the ground but spends a lot of time somewhere in between. To take the analogy a step further, it also contains anticipation but like a yo-yo, you know where the anticipation is going to lead. The film portrays two female vampires who land in a small, run down sea-side town, two centuries after their making. Mother Clara (Gemma Arterton) works mainly as a prostitute to make ends meet while her gloomy daughter Eleanor (Saoirse Ronan) struggles to connect with her mother and is lost and lonely amongst their modern surroundings.
Byzantium is pitched somewhere between gothic thriller and family drama and doesn’t quite succeed at either. At its best it’s a poignant coming of age drama but it’s sometimes painfully slow and meanders between the modern day and early nineteen century when it might have worked better to stay in one or the other. The film is host to a wonderful performance from Saoirse Ronan which helps to elevate it above purely mundane and towards something of interest.