Review: New teen sensation, Twilight captures vampire angst

27 Nov 2008

By The Record

twilight_bigteaserposter.jpgJust because you’re a vampire, it doesn’t mean you can’t be a gentleman.
Take Edward (British actor Robert Pattinson, Cedric Diggory in the "Harry Potter" films), the tall, pale – very pale – and handsome hero of the generally restrained gothic romance "Twilight" (Summit). He may be undead, but he’s quick to open car doors for his girlfriend, Bella (Kristen Stewart, in her first starring role), and insists on formally introducing himself to her sheriff father (Billy Burke).
Then again, despite the fact that he appears to be 17, his manners were acquired about a century ago. Edward’s genteel side may help to explain why "Twilight" and the three subsequent young people’s books by Mormon author Stephenie Meyer in which he figures have sold 17 million copies, principally to teen girls, and spawned more than 350 fan sites online. And why a sequel was already in the works before "Twilight’s" release.
Though he describes himself as a "monster," like many a cultured screen Dracula before him, Edward’s evil, or potential for evil, is masked by an appealing facade. On the other hand, while his dark urges are held in check by his own willpower and by Bella’s trust, an intriguing element of risk remains.
Thus, soon after Bella first sees Edward, an optical illusion makes it appear as though he’s sprouted angel’s wings, but a later scene has them casually handling an apple symbolic of mutual temptation.
Still, Edward is commendably scrupulous about his, uh, drinking habits. He restricts himself to animal blood, and lives with a clan of like-minded sun shunners, presided over by father figure Dr. Cullen (Peter Facinelli). Unfortunately, a wandering band of less enlightened plasma fanciers, led by thuggish James (Cam Gigandet), is also in the area, taking a toll on the humans and adding to Dad’s paperwork. Edward initially resisted his attraction to Bella when she arrived in the small, conveniently overcast town of Forks, Wash., and became his newest classmate. But his half-hearted efforts to repel her for fear of harming her were hopeless. So the two began spending luxurious moments gazing into each other’s eyes and lying beside each other under the trees.
When they attempt some racier activity in a scene of passionate kissing set in her bedroom, Edward is forced to break off, unable to trust himself to stay, so to speak, on the wagon. They return to form by cuddling.
Director Catherine Hardwicke’s stylish adaptation, wittily scripted by Melissa Rosenberg, never takes itself too seriously, preferring instead to use its ill-matched couple’s predicament to parody both adolescent awkwardness and teenage yearning. Despite a lush, misty background, many vampire conventions are cleverly overturned, as when Bella visits Edward’s home and finds, not a crypt but a spruce modern dwelling straight from the pages of Architectural Digest.
The film contains brief but intense action violence, a scene of mild sensuality and a few sexual references; it is acceptable for older teens – By John Mulderig CNS