Taking a Chance on Love
Fascinated even more by fan reactions than by what was happening on screen in Twilight, I now realize why so many teens have been looking forward to this movie. Combining the appeal of forbidden love with a seductive vampire theme, this romantic thriller lifts teenage longing and fantasy to new cinematic heights. However, not having read Stephenie Meyer’s mega-popular novel, I’m forced to restrict my comments to director Catherine Hardwicke’s movie -- plus the audience reception at the screening my husband and I attended.
Not since watching Waiting To Exhale have I heard such enthusiastic viewer support of the characters they’re watching. “You go, girl,” “Look at him,” “Ahhh,” “That’s just right” filled the theater. Yes, laughter erupted more than a few times, but none of it seemed derisive. The chuckles were usually evoked by something a fan probably recognized from the book and was delighted to see presented the way she (young women made up most of the audience) expected.
Obviously, these viewers love the Twilight characters -- especially Bella Swan and Edward Cullen, two teens who fall for each other despite the apparently insurmountable obstacle of Edward being a vampire. Portraying this unusual couple, Kristen Stewart (Zathura) and Robert Pattinson (Little Ashes) generate a poignant chemistry together. Although intrigued by each other at their very first meeting, Bella and Edward have a tough time understanding one another -- and the actors do a great job projecting what they must be going through.
Stewart makes us believe Bella’s all-consuming curiosity about Edward, and Pattinson gives Edward an aura of mystery that’s hard to resist. Dramatic close-ups by cinematographer Elliot Davis (The Nativity Story) help draw us into the budding romance of these two high school students.
More emotion-driven than plot heavy, Twilight deals with the problems Bella and Edward face in both of their worlds. Granted, Edward is not the type of vampire we usually see in movies. As a member of a “good vampire” group, he doesn’t want to harm humans. But he’s not happy being a vampire of any kind, and he feels protective of Bella, so he worries about what will happen to her if she forms a relationship with him. And, of course, Bella knows her father (Billy Burke), the police chief, would not approve of Edward if he discovered the truth about him. Adding even more danger to Bella’s life, a “bad vampire” (Cam Gigandet) begins to view her as his latest snack.
I’m amazed at the restraint used in making this film, particularly in the areas of make-up and special effects. The vampires look a bit different -- penetrating eyes, light skin and so forth -- but they’re not campy. Likewise, special effects are effective and not overdone. Case in point: Edward’s swifter-than-possible rescue of Bella in the first part of the movie. That brief, exciting sequence really impressed me because of its splendid camera work and editing – and so did the lively vampire baseball game.
Will Bella and Edward live happily ever after? That, after all, is the most important question here, which may take three more movies to answer fully. Author Meyer has also written New Moon, Eclipse, Breaking Dawn -- all Twilight follow-up novels -- and I understand Summit Entertainment just gave the go ahead for a film version of New Moon. Looks like the beginning of a very successful franchise. Eat your heart out, Anne Rice.
(Released by Summit Entertainment and rated “PG-13” for some violence and a scene of sensuality.)
For more information about Twilight, please go to the Internet Movie Data Base or Rotten Tomatoes website.