Harry basks in the TWILIGHT... it is so cool to be in love
A strange thing happened on my way to ridicule my wife’s love for TWILIGHT… I kinda sorta fell a little in love too.
I’m a softy, I admit it. I love romance, be it silly or serious… momentary or eternal. I’m a sucker for stories about people that shouldn’t be together that just… despite the order of the food chain, find a reason to fight their natural instincts and… well… get it on.
So sign me up for BetweenHisDiamondThighs.Com cuz I’m a fan of Catherine Hardwicke’s TWILIGHT. That said, it’s not anywhere near the best Vampire film of the year… that falls to LET THE RIGHT ONE IN, which is… all at once, more romantic and scarier and far better shot. But I like this film.
First off, if your spouse or significant other is dragging you to see TWILIGHT this weekend, you should know… flat out, it’s crushingly romantic. I’ve seen the film twice now, yes – my wife has a problem, but genuinely, I like the film more than she does. She flat out despises Carter Burwell’s 80’s-esque score, and misses a few scenes that were her favorite from the novel, but overall… she does love the movie.
The second most important thing you should know about TWILIGHT is that it really isn’t a VAMPIRE film. There are Vampires. It is a “I fell in love with the nicest Vampire” story – but at the end of the day, this is a ROMANCE movie. If you’re filing it in a video store, it absolutely belongs in romances – the same way that SOMEWHERE IN TIME belongs in ROMANCE. Is it as great a romance as SOMEWHERE IN TIME? No, it’s closer to Linda Hamilton and Ron Perlman’s BEAUTY AND THE BEAST and TV’s LOIS & CLARK. Actually… that’s not quite right either.
This is much closer to PRETTY IN PINK.
Bella is very much a girl in the Molly Ringwald brand. Nowhere near as eclectic or cool, but a girl that doesn’t necessarily fit in with any of the groups. Kristen Stewart plays Bella as that awesome best friend… the girl that helps her girlfriends hooks up, helps her guy friends find their ideals, but she, herself… she’s alone. She feels she’s like her single father. Someone that feels like she’s best alone. This is something that everyone that loves romance feels. At their core, they love romance, they love the idea of finding someone that can show them a world that they can only dream of from books and movies. But how likely is it that you’ll ever find someone like that?
Edward? Well, honestly he’s not just the Andrew McCarthy character – he has a bit of Jon Cryer’s Duckie in him too. He’s handsome in that precious way – that isn’t he cute, pinch his cheeks kinda way. But as Robert Pattinson plays Edward… a character built to be a dangerously hot version of Mr Darcy… well, he’s very much an all powerful dork. Robert may be the latest heartthrob to strike our unsuspecting world, but he’s absolutely dweebishly handsome and awkward around Bella. He’s fabulously handsome, every girl wants him – but he’s like mercury – slipping through their fingers and a bit poisonous.
Now – you also need to know that the rules of VAMPIRES are completely thrown out the window. This is kinda like Anne Rice – where Stephenie Meyer just took what she liked about vampires – the bloodlust and sucking, and took away all their weaknesses. Sunlight, crosses, stakes in the heart, mirrors, cameras, holy water… that’s all BUSTED as Adam and Jamie would say. Here – Vampires can subsist on a diet of fresh animal blood, but it just isn’t satisfying. But it is better than killing a human life, something that their every instinct compels them to do. Their weakness – the thing they have to fight – is to KILL. That is the sadness of their existence. They’re built to be everything that a human could want, but in turn – a human’s blood is their driven core instinct. To not drink a human’s blood would be like not watching DAILY SHOW & COLBERT Monday through Thursday. Just something nigh impossible to exist without.
I like this take on the story and upon vampires. Most of all – I like Bella and Edward. I love how awkward Edward is around her – and I love the mystery that is Edward to her. I like how I believe the kids in her school and I like the teacher. I like how Bella’s parents are not horribly fucked up individuals, but just good parents that divorced. That all of this isn’t over complicated. It’s a very normal story of girl meets boy, boy is a vampire, boy that’s cool.
Could it be better?
Yes. I was pretty much completely satisfied after the first viewing. I went in thinking that I would probably hate it – and have two to three weeks of my wife hating me. But I found the story disarming and characters genuinely fun to spend time with.
But my second viewing was at a special AUSTIN FILM SOCIETY screening – and director Catherine Hardwicke was there – and the audience made up of TWILIGHT hardcore fans, well after the movie was a Q&A moderated by Richard Linklater. During this Q&A – an audience member asked Catherine how the process of picking what to leave in and what to trim from the 400+ pages of the original novel… well, how did that work?
Well, in Catherine’s answer she revealed a shallowness about the film that I didn’t really catch while watching it. She talked about how she didn’t want to make the film just “talking heads”. As she said this, there was this smirk on Richard Linklater’s face. And the thought hit me, “My god, I can’t believe that Catherine Hardwicke is saying that Talking Heads and Romance is patently uncinematic while standing next to the director of BEFORE SUNRISE and BEFORE SUNSET!”
TWILIGHT is a very sweet and crushingly romantic film, but it’s a lite romantic movie. I guarantee that fans of the book won’t LOVE the movie like they did the book. The reason? Because Hardwicke and the producers of this film didn’t trust in the conversations and the expressions of the characters thoughts. Sure, the movie is 2 hours long and to add in the substance of all those conversations. To do more than just the common cheap exchanging of glances and the hanging out in treetops and saving her from certain death… that takes real courage and real understanding of love.
But that’s why TWILIGHT is simply a good Romantic film, whilst Linklater’s BEFORE SUNSET and BEFORE SUNRISE are amongst the greatest Romantic films. Those TALKING HEAD scenes in CASABLANCA really killed it, didn’t they?
The surprise of TWILIGHT though is it isn’t vapid. There’s an honest and real spark between Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson – and the other actors all show a great deal of charisma as well. This is a very very strong cast. You will notice them in other films. And for many of them, this is where they started off.
As for me, I look forward to TWILIGHT 2: BREAK OUT THE FUR IN FRONT OF THE FIREPLACE.