Saturday, 20 December 2008

Twilight the movie - A Review

Visually interesting and structurally complex, Twilight the movie zones out of its opening genre as a teen flic to become a super hero romance with Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart) playing Jane to Edward Cullen's (Robert Pattinson) Tarzan. He and she fall in love, they plight troths in a weird way overshadowed by his 'condition' with its predatory overtones, the family accepts her, a 'tracker' arrives (a classical 'other') who wants to 'turn' Bella, and the movie zooms toward an 'interesting' denouement.

But what the movie reviews I have read don't really get to is the real point: the visuals. The movie is gorgeous, if a good 30 minutes too long. Its target demographic is young women, and the love story contains adequate fodder for them. But the slowness, which derives from some awkward explanatory scenes, is a drag.

Edward's strength becomes his frailty. The throwaway line "My family considers themselves to be vegetarians" is not as goofy as it first sounds. The self restraint imposed by the Cullen clan aims at minimising harm to humans. The sustaining narrative is an ethical issue, just as vegetarianism is.

Human life is precious, we're told. The alternative to this self restraint is a punked-up psychopath with dreadlocks and a fur cape. There's really no choice if you aspire to the kind of playful elegance of the Cullens, who live in a magazine-perfect house surrounded by trees displayed through floor-to-ceiling windows, and hung with numerous artworks.

The choice is to consume in a sustainable manner. The Cullens are well aware of the alternatives, just as Bella becomes savvy in time. It's hard for a girl in love to be responsible, but Bella derives some sort of inspiration from the Cullens, Edward especially.

She can't not do so - she loves him and, it is clear from his words, he loves her. The trick is to live a life of fellowship. Sex is out of the question. Bella's just too yummy for poor drooling Ed. Children likewise. Possibly they'd produce half-glittering offspring instead of the full monte: Edward's skin glistens in the sunlight and the soundtrack mimicks the effect with tinkling bells.

It's almost like a scene from Peter Jackson's Tolkein adaptation: the elves in the green glens of their realm. Edward and his ilk are more odd-looking, but the ethereal nature of their combined appearance is akin to the elvish squad headed by a long-locked Cate Blanchett.

In Twilight the humour works against a too-sweet rendition of perfection. And Bella's dad Charlie (Billy Burke) plays a too-good-to-be-true amalgam of small town ordinariness and cool dad who doesn't talk too much but who also puts new tyres on the ute when the snow arrives.

Bella's mum Alica (Ashley Greene) also adds humour as the divorced parent who takes up with a minor league baseball player and then follows him around the country on his travels. Her applied affection is reasonable as well as tender. She's a trooper, if deluded.

God, parents can be so embarassing!

The movie needs a good cut but otherwise the extant reviews don't do justice to its striking visual aesthetic and the considerable commonsense that plays out between the devotedness of teenage love and the humour of a teen romance.

Three stars.


Anonymous said...

Have you read the books?

Matthew da Silva said...

No I haven't. Are they like the movie?

Anonymous said...

Matt, I have no idea -- I haven't read the books, but I'm intrigued by their popularity.

Anonymous said...

erm...Ashley Greene doesn't play Bella's mum - she plays Alice - Edwards Sister