Release Date: November 21, 2008
Cast: Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, Billy Burke, Nikki Reed, Ashley Greene, Peter Facinelli
By Sean Chavel
It’s not too often that your typical American teenage girl gets to hang out with two different cliques in high school. But right away, we’re convinced to believe that Bella Swan is some kind of special girl. She fits right in with the B-group – the bright young minds that are somewhat cool and somewhat carefree dorky. She is special in one way because student vampire Edward Cullen can’t seem to read her mind the way he is able to read everyone else’s. There is something obscure and different about Bella, something both drawing but enigmatic about this girl, and she’s able to see the emotional transparencies of everyone else which I suppose makes her more intriguing than most of her classmates – yet this Edward vampire can’t see the transparencies in her. "Twilight," based on the first of Stephanie Meyer’s phenomenon four-book bestseller series, is more psychological layered than your typical vampire flick. Should I also mention that it’s funny in an off-beat way?
Bella is played by Kristen Stewart (“Into the Wild”), who has the right privy but sensitive qualities for this character. She has a craving, an appetite, to bring more exhilaration and meaning to her doldrums life even though she’s not quite sure where to find it at first. The guy she’s interested in, Edward, has an appetite for blood. What’s unique about him is that he is a self-described vegan vampire, as he only sucks the blood of animals not people. There are other vampires in sunless Forks, Washington that prey on people, hush, hush. But this hunky and disaffected Edward is a guy that Bella finds exhilarating – exhilarating as in sexy. Edward is played by Robert Pattinson, a veteran of two “Harry Potter” movies.
After an odd string of friendly but cautious encounters, Edward rushes in to save Bella’s life from an out-of-control automobile. She is okay, being immediately discharged from the hospital from this near fatal accident. She begins to spy on not just Edward but the entire pale-faced Cullen family. It’s obvious to her but to no one else that there is something the Cullens’ are hiding. Hey, she’s more perceptive than everyone else! She also knows how to question authority!
Bella’s father Charlie (played by Billy Burke) is a police officer and the so-called authority of the household. He is also a curiously boring character, and you wonder if he was shaped so in order to make Bella into a more self-reliant and independent character who can function outside the grasp of her father. Charlie is a well-built and sturdy man, but a man of no interesting dialogue or words. No wonder Bella is hungry for more of a life, she’s got nothing going on at home.
Without surprise, Bella wins the heart of Edward and sinks her way into his clique of pale-faced friends – who are also vampires. Many of them have been alive for at least one hundred years. Edward is perpetually in a 17-year old body, and it is implied when he graduates from high school, he will along with his family relocate to another grey-skied northern United States high school. “Twilight” is essentially a love story between the two, and there is certainly a palpable romance. The film doesn’t depend on much plot other than orientating us with the lives of modern day vampires that attempt to at least melt in with the rest of society in their own furtive way. Eventually an adversary is introduced, an anti-social jerk of a vampire (Cam Gigandet) who detects Bella as an imposter and decidedly wants to eat her blood.
“Twilight” is also marvelously photographed with top-of-the-line aerial camerawork (vampires can fly), and director Catherine Hardwicke (“Thirteen”) has a pungent eye for character and location. One imagines more plot will take place in its announced sequels based on the following installments of the books “New Moon,” “Eclipse,” and “Breaking Dawn.” I am not an expert on these books but all I know is that I liked the movie. The sneak peak audience, made up of swooning girls, seemed to get all hot and panting over the vampire boys - especially hunk Edward.