Sunday, November 23, 2008

TWILIGHT The Movie (and a big room full of screaming teenage girls)

Confession: I have read all four of Stephenie Meyer's forbidden-love-teenage-vampire books.  I read them quickly and breathlessly.  The woman knows how to tell a suspenseful and engaging story, I'll tell you that.  I'll also freely admit that as a grown woman, I had a few problems with our main man, vampire Edward Cullen.  Oh boy, what do we think of him... Ideal Fantasy Boyfriend???  Intelligent, stunningly gorgeous, physically superior, musically talented, thoughtful, passionate, gentlemanly old fashioned, able to leap across an icy parking lot and save you from a van about to pin you against the solid door of your old pickup truck in less than a second?  

OR is he Potentially Abusive Boyfriend???  Controlling under the guise of protecting, telling you what you think, possessive, oh, and uh, has been sneaking into your bedroom to watch you sleep for like, the last two months?  (Creepy?  Sexy?  CREEPY!)

NONE of that matters.  It didn't stop me from reading after the first book, and I was right there on opening night at the movie theatre, with my 14 year old daughter and one of her friends.  I wouldn't have wanted to have been anywhere else.  We walked in and within seconds I was meeting new friends from Grade 9.  Every three steps there were more greetings and squeals and giggles.  Scary-fun.  Teenage girls are the strangest combo of vicious/ happy, which goes a long way in explaining this story's success.

Not to mention... apparently I'm not the only mother who got caught up in the saga.  In the packed audience, I counted one boy, and three dads.  Every other movie watcher was sitting in a cloud of her own female hormones.  It was crazeee.  

The girls applauded the previews.  They shrieked and clapped when the screen blackened, resulting in a flurry of "Sh!  Sh!  Sh!  Shut up!  Shhhhh!  SHH!" and that in turn resulted in me slumped down in my seat shaking with silent giggles, and then my two girls noticing and giggling, making me fear a giant SHUSHING from the ravenous horde of teenagers, which then made me shake with even harder silent giggles.  

It was awesome.

Finally the title flashed on the screen and we all clapped and screamed like the freakin Beatles were back.  

So, is it a good movie or not?

Answer: YES. 

It's a gorgeous looking movie.  The actors are good to look at, the scenery is amazing, and it's lovingly, dreamily filmed.  One of the things I liked about the books was the constant feeling of a low grey sky, and a suppressed restlessness under the surface.  Don't ask how, cuz I don't know, but it's visual.

The story is told precisely and with good pacing.  It's just surreal enough, and just realistic enough.  

The actors are so well cast it almost shocked me.  I mean, the kid who plays Mike Newton was PERFECT.  Alice Cullen is as accurate as humanly possible.  Billy Black and Charlie Swan?  Any future re-read of that book will have their faces.  I'm usually irritated by that.  I hate it that my own visualization of the characters is replaced by actors.  Maybe it's the clear descriptions in the book, but for the most part everybody looked like I thought they should.

Even the music was right.  Bands like Muse and Linkin Park got a spin (Meyer favourites) as well as some classical (Debussey; look it up)  ("You can google it") all of which added up to a moody thrill of atmosphere.

Bella's truck, a significant character actually, was perfect.  I must include the wonderful truck.  

I got the impression that it's a '55 Chevy in the book, but I'm pretty sure this is a '62 Chevy.   What can I say, I'm a truck freak.  I'm pretty sure Stephenie Meyer likes cars too.  I'd encourage young girls to notice things like this.  It's just good knowledge to have.  

I'll give them props though, for getting the colour and condition of the truck right.  It's completely awesome and I love, love, love it!   Just as in the book this old truck is a bright spot in Bella's life.  

Bella.  As played by Kristen Stewart, she's much more stubborn and much less drip.  She's still shy and awkward, but with a current of spunkiness.  They got it all right: the jeans and mittens and sweatshirts wardrobe, the lack of make up, the looking down while delivering deadpan one liners.  What a relief.  I really wanted to like that kid.

This is one of the most faithful movie adaptations I've ever seen.  Quite a few lines of dialogue were lifted straight out of the book.  The plot wasn't screwed around with either.  A few characters were omitted just to keep things manageable, but generally it's all there.  It would have to be, or else there would be hordes of angry crying screaming teenage girls protesting.  I don't think any of us want that, do we?

I loved seeing this movie amid a horde of teenage girls.  I got to clap and whoop enthusiastically when Edward, in Ray Ban shades, opened the door of his car to let Bella out and casually threw his arm over her shoulder, letting the whole world (school) know that they're together now.  That's one of those high school memories that you either have had, or always wished you could have.  

As for those mixed feelings I have for this story... I feel better now.  All my sermons to the girls about not mistaking control for love, and the whole thing was summed up when he confesses to watching her sleep at night and a girl somewhere in the middle of the theatre called out, "STALKER!"  A wave of knowing snickers followed.  They get it.


This is a horror/love story for the cautious, frightened present.  We still want the forbidden love, the thrill of the unknown, but a nice vegetarian vampire isn't %100 off limits, right?  It's bucketloads of sexual tension, damn near heartstopping, but it's all above the chest.  Everybody's still a virgin at the end, and only the baddest bad guy dies.  (and he's really baaaad too!!!!)

Oh, and also?  It's a movie.  It's pretend.

I'd recommend it, and without spoiling the whole thing, I'll just say that the ending will make you want to see more!