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Movie Review: Twilight

Twilight Poster

Just jump right in and read the the review for the upcoming, Twilight.

According to my girlfriend – who has become obsessed with the series after reading all of the books in record time – Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight is all about adolescent feelings and romantic longing with a little bit of vampirism thrown in to make the proceedings more fanciful. Given the glut of male wish-fulfillment that typically occupies the silver screen, there’s certainly nothing wrong with any of those elements. Interestingly, however, Catherine Hardwicke’s adaptation of the acclaimed first novel actually works best when it’s indulging those thoughts and feelings most, producing an adaptation that’s introspective and romantic enough to satisfy the franchise’s diehard fans even if its clumsy execution is likely to distract those not already fully devoted to its combination of vampire mythology and teenage female melancholy.

Kristen Stewart (Into the Wild) plays Bella Swan, an introverted 17-year old who relocates to Forks, Washington after her mom Renee (Sarah Clarke) leaves their Phoenix home to be with her new husband. Moving in with her dad Charlie (Billy Burke), Bella slowly adjusts to a new school and a new life, developing a tight-knit group of friends despite her inescapable self-consciousness and physical awkwardness. But when she meets Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson), she becomes fascinated by his elusive presence in the lunchroom, and eventually, next to her in class. As the two of them begin a tenuous courtship, Bella discovers the reason for his mysterious, withdrawn disposition: Edward and the rest of his family are vampires, although they feed only on animals for sustenance. Their openness with one another soon blossoms into a passionate romance, but a vampire named James (Cam Gigandet) sets his sights on Bella, culminating in a battle that forces the couple to confront not only the immediate danger, but the ultimate meaning of their love for one another.

Superficially, the prospect of watching a movie that focuses on how awkward teenage girls feel sounds like some sort of Saw-style psychological trap – one to make me appreciate how good my life is or at least appreciate that the majority of movies these days seem to focus mostly on blowing stuff up. But Hardwicke, whose directorial debut Thirteen (and to a lesser extent its follow-up, Lords of Dogtown) suggests she believes most teenagers are vile, sex-addicted drug addicts, crafts a believable and incredibly sympathetic portrait of teen angst which – bloodsucking melodrama aside – should resonate with viewers of all ages, much less genders. That Bella’s constant stream of doubt, insecurities and second guesses always feels palpable and authentic is not merely a testament to Stewart’s masterfully subtle performance but the source material and the script’s ability to truly deconstruct that impassioned, unfocused but undeniable mindset.

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