Forgive me for beginning my review of Byzantium with this almost irrelevant fact: The only time the Guardian Fiction Prize was shared by two writers was in 1979—Dambudzo Marechera (for The House of Hunger) and Neil Jordan (for Night in Tunisia). If you have never lived in Southern Africa, or studied postcolonial literature, the name Marechera will produce a blank page in your mind. As for Jordan, he is a very famous and productive Irish movie director who has been immortalized by three works: Mona Lisa, The Crying Game, and Interview with the Vampire.
Jordan mainly makes two types of films: smart thrillers and slick horror flicks. Byzantium, his latest production, is in the latter category. The story: Two vampires light their flat on fire and flee to a seaside town. The older vampire, Clara (Gemma Arterton), is the mother of the younger one, Eleanor (Saoirse Ronan). The older vampire has been a whore for more than 200 years. She has seen everything, done everything, fucked everything. The younger vampire, however, is not curvy, aggressive, and animalistic like her mother, but instead a melancholy, sensitive, eternally 16-year-old girl who just wants to date a nice boy and prefers killing old and almost dead people for the blood that sustains her.
When the two vampires arrive at the seaside town, the mother meets a broken man who has inherited a rundown hotel, Byzantium, from his recently buried mother. The old whore picks up the pieces of the broken man and transforms him into a pimp and his hotel into a brothel. This is the best part of the film. The so-so part of the film involves some ancient secret society that wants to catch the vampires and punish them for some crime they committed 200 years ago. Altogether, Byzantium is not bad, not memorable, and certainly no Mona Lisa.