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‘Byzantium’

by Giovanni Fazio

The post-”Twilight” boom in all things vampire continues, but this latest undead flick comes from Irish director Neil Jordan (“The Crying Game”), whose 1994 adaptation of Anne Rice’s “Interview With the Vampire” well preceded the current trend.

Byzantium
Rating

Clara and Eleanor are “sucreants” — vampires for all intents and purposes — who have been on the run together for centuries. Seductive and cruel Clara (Gemma Arterton) has it down to an art form, posing as a hooker and feeding on the blood of the creepier johns, but “younger” Eleanor (Saoirse Ronan) is feeling the distinct need to unload her story on another person. While staying at an abandoned hotel in a British seaside resort where Clara is running a brothel, she meets Frank (Caleb Landry Jones), a wan young lad with leukemia with whom she bonds, much to Clara’s disapproval. There are other, darker secrets of which Eleanor knows nothing.

Ronan, with her ethereal looks, and Arterton, with her voluptuous sensuality, are perfectly cast, while Sam Riley and Jonny Lee Miller are rather less successful as the wretches who originally infect the women back in the 19th century. Jordan is strong on the Gothic ambience of the flashbacks and a more neon-lit noir feel for the present, and makes much of the contrasting predation between prostitution and vampirism.