"Twilight" transfixes

Nov. 24, 2008, midnight | By Lauren Kestner | 15 years, 8 months ago

Vampire love story leaves viewers spellbound

Arguably one of the most eagerly anticipated film adaptations since the "Harry Potter" series, "Twilight" is a thrilling journey into the twisted romance shared by the unlikeliest of lovers: a lonely human girl and a bloodthirsty vampire. The film is a poignant reminder of the enduring resiliency of love, and will resonate well with die-hard fans of the book.

"Twilight" follows the story of Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart), a native of Phoenix, Az., who chooses to leave her mother (Sarah Clarke) and live temporarily with her father Charlie (Billy Black), a police chief in the small town of Forks. Despite making new friends, Bella is bothered by the dismal weather and unprovoked hostility of her new lab partner, the enigmatic Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson). She soon learns that he and his adopted family are vampires, but they choose to only suck the blood of animals. Just as Bella and Edward begin developing feelings for each other, a band of three rogue vampires – Laurent (Edi Gathegi), Victoria (Rachelle Lefevre), and James (Cam Gigandet) – descend on the group, and the hunt for Bella begins.

Robert Pattinson, best known for his role as Cedric Diggory in "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire," emerges as the driving force of the film. He embodies the anguish and torment one would expect of a vampire who has to reconcile feelings of desire with the need for self-control. Pattinson masterfully captures Edward's selfless concern for Bella's safety, a quality that makes him such an endearing character in the book. Kristen Stewart plays the role of Bella flawlessly, personifying the same bravery and unrelenting love for Edward even as he insists that she should leave him to ensure her safety.

Supporting actor Cam Gigandet delivers a stunning performance as James, the terrifying sadistic vampire who pursues Bella after meeting her during the Cullens' baseball game. Gigandet assumes a crazed expression at the first sight of Bella; his creepy half-smile and subtle lick to the lips are enough to make viewers cringe in their seats as they pray for her safety.

The baseball game at which James makes his first appearance is undoubtedly the most visually thrilling scene in the movie. The audience follows the bullet-like streak of a pitched ball as it closes in on the batter, who winds up to strike with such power that the ball ricochets towards the distant woods. A blurred figure is shown darting between trees in pursuit of the ball as ominous flashes of lightning penetrate the sky, illuminating the face of the runner that strains to make it home before the outfielder returns.

The romantic tension between the couple, utterly absorbing in Stephanie Meyer's original novel, is no less gripping in the film. Laying in a picturesque meadow on a soft bed of grass, in one of many the breathtaking scenes of natural beauty in the film, Pattinson declares, "And so the lion falls in love with the lamb." Stewart's self-degenerative reply, "What a stupid lamb," and Pattinson's equally self-disparaging retort, "What a sick, masochistic lion," brings much-needed comedic release to a film otherwise dominated by sappy romance. Indeed, the film's only flaw lies in some of the lovers' dialogue, which becomes increasingly trite and a bit melodramatic. In one scene, Pattinson inquires, "Are you afraid?" to which Stewart replies overdramatically, "I'm only afraid of losing you."

But no film can ever capture the same romantic intensity shared between Edward and Bella in the book or inspire the same enthusiasm among its fans. Even so, "Twilight" guarantees that anticipation for the premiere of its sequel, "New Moon," will rise in the months before its release.

"Twilight" (122 minutes) is rated PG-13 for some violence and a scene of sensuality. Now playing in theaters everywhere.

Lauren Kestner. Lauren Kestner loves Trader Joe's chocolates, cheesy television soap operas, summer trips to Lake Anna, coffee ice cream from Coldstone Creamery, hikes at Northwest Branch and shopping at Heritage. Playing soccer for Blair or her MSC club team and running at the gym consumes much … More »

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