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Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Twilight: Vampires Can Love Me, Too


“Twilight” is sincere and astonishingly faithful to Stephanie Meyer’s best-selling series, “The Twilight Saga”, and it captures all of the loaded eye contact between a vampire and his human lover. The concept may have been milked throughout the ages, but there seems to be something about “Twilight” that grips its teeny-bopper audience. This same thing is actually its biggest failing as a film.

Bella Swan is played with a slightly angry intensity by Kristen Stewart, a slight woman-girl who gets caught in daughter roles often—and plays them well, actually. This time around, she expresses more than half of the film’s dialogue with piercing glares dotted with softenings that betray a forbidden love’s intrusion upon her heart. Unfortunately, the film really doesn’t say much apart from, “I love you, I really do, even though I shouldn’t.”

Opposite her is Edward Cullen, played by Robert Pattinson. Dark, brooding, and inhumanly beautiful, Bella’s Edward is Buffy’s Angel and Mina’s Dracula. Despite having so many mirrors for the archetype, Pattinson actually does a very good job. Through intense stares and communicative silences, Pattinson expresses the caged beast that the many other charismatic vampires have raging under the perfect pale skin.

The casting was flawless and the cast delivered, a lot of tension going back and forth between them, else sparking invisibly whenever their eyes meet. However, there is something about the mythos of the Twilight world that boggles the mind of anyone who would get past the delicious and tormented romance between the two main characters: why them?

Edward’s family is a gaggle of well-meaning, pro-human vampires who control their urges for the good of humanity. Apparently, the vampires in this world have no outward weaknesses. Sunlight, the traditional bane of the handsome undead, does nothing more that to make them sparkle. A poignant question of versimilitude asks, “If vampires are the world’s greatest predators and are unhindered by the weaknesses of traditional vampires, why would any of them play nice?”

It’s this blatant negligence of logic that actually makes the target demographic squeal. Of course it had to be true love. “Given that there’s nothing keeping my boyfriend from making me into a happy meal, and yet he doesn’t, it has to be true love!”

All in all, “Twilight” was well acted and well directed. Kudos to the cast and crew who played to the material’s strengths because that’s all they can do. Given the banality of the plot, what’s more horrifying is that Stephanie Meyer concludes through the afterthought of a subplot involving the “bad vampires” who have more than enough justification to act like they’re on top of the food chain, is that having a perfect vampire boyfriend is all that matters in the world. The wantonness is romantic, for sure, but it’s also what makes it so implausible for a cynical Bella to love a bland Edward for anything but his looks. Unfortunately, this provides the ultimate fantasy for squealing fangirls everywhere—that you can be a sarcastic, pretentious, and ungrateful twat, and still win the love of the campus hottie.

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