Neil Jordan was the director of The Company of Wolves, Interview With the Vampire and Ondine, and he’s attached to the adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book. He’s a master at finding the lyrical in stories of real life and real danger, and at hiding the impossible just underneath a thin veil of the possible.
With only three big-screen movies in the last ten years, we’ve not been getting enough of his work of late but Byzantium is now in post production and seems to be coming along brilliantly.
Here’s a new still from the film, showing Gemma Arterton and Saoirse Ronan, and then a full plot blurb to put the image in context.
Eleanor and Clara, two mysterious and penniless young women, flee the scene of a violent crime and arrive in a run-down coastal resort. They try to find money and refuge along the tawdry seafront and in the dilapidated hotels.
Clara, ever-practical, sells her body. She soon meets shy and lonely Noel, who provides a roof over their heads in his seedy guesthouse, Byzantium. Clara, always looking towards the future, turns it into a ‘pop-up’ brothel.
Meanwhile Eleanor, the eternal schoolgirl, meets Frank, a kindred spirit who unwittingly prompts her to tell the truth about her life. She tells him that Clara is her mother; yet Clara is only a few years older. She says that she was born in 1804; yet she is just sixteen. She confesses that she must drink human blood to stay alive – and so must her mother. In the small, quiet town, people start to die.
And the past that the girls have been running from for so long, finally catches up with them – with astonishing consequences.
So, I’m calling this a vampire story though it may not actually have vampires in it. I don’t think that’s the appropriate criterion. Whether there are immortal bloodsuckers or not, this film is flowing with the blood of vampire folklore.
The blurb echoes key elements of many more films by Jordan, from The Miracle to Mona Lisa, but this one wasn’t written by him at all. Byzantium has been scripted by Moira Buffini from her own stage play. On evidence of her screenplays for Tamara Drewe and Jane Eyre, however, she’s fine writer.
Byzantium should be along later in the year. I’m sure I’ll be talking about it a lot more closer to its release.