Twilight (2008)

Starring: Robert Pattinson, Kristen Stewart, Billy Burke, Peter Facinelli, Cam Gigandet, Taylor Lautner

Directed by: Catherine Hardwicke

Rating: 1 2 3 4

Kristen Stewart as Bella and Robert Pattinson as Edward in Twlight

I wasn't 100 per cent convinced by Stephenie Meyer's teenage vampire novel Twilight, an intense and occasionally wearisome tale of a klutzy 16-year-old loner called Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart), who moves to a rain-soaked, cloud-covered town on the coast of Washington and falls in love with the high school heart throb, Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson – aka Cedric Diggory from Harry Potter) – who also happens to be a vampire.

On the page, clumsy, downbeat Bella's first person narrative is so self-deprecating you really do wonder what this glittering, undead lovegod sees in her, but in the cinematic flesh, all shiny hair and pouting lips, surrounded by ditzy, immature classmates that come on like rejects from Clueless, the appeal is rather more obvious.

The old school bloodsuckers come into town

There's also a lot more action in the on-screen version: while Edward and his adopted family may be chaste, new age, 'vegetarian' vampires (albeit constantly tempted by the irresistible scent of human blood), when three old school, traditional carnivores stroll, super cool Lost Boys style, into town, things become rather more dangerous, and Bella soon finds she has more to worry about than whether, when her new boyfriend's family invite her round for tea, she could be the main course…

Now that Anne Rice has gorn all religious on us, Stephenie Meyer is the new queen of vampire fiction. But while her elegant, suavely dressed, icy, pale-skinned superbeings could probably fend off Lestat and co. in a chisel-featured fopathon, they're sadly lacking in the polyamorous sexual athletic department – Bella and Edward's relationship is all breathless anticipation tinged with apprehension, but no, well, satisfaction.

However, Twilight is aimed squarely at a teen and tweenie audience, not seedy old vampoholics like me, and no doubt the idea of an Adonis-like boyfriend who'll love you forever and ask nothing in return is really quite alluring when you're twelve.

The film has a lighter touch than the book, counteracting its slightly po-faced tendency to take itself too seriously with a more comedic note. The first time Bella encounters Edward in biology class, for example, Meyer's rapturous prose is translated into a marvellous image of our glowing hero sprouting the wings of a stuffed barn owl behind him, like a fallen high school angel.

But of course nobody takes themselves more seriously than a teenager in love, and both book and film successfully capture the crushingly single-minded intensity of first passion. Like Juno meets Romeo and Juliet meets Near Dark, Twilight is a gorgeous, romantic love story laced with high-octane action sequences that are all the better for being used sparingly. Sassy, sweet and surprisingly convincing, this is a must-see for anyone who's ever dreamed of falling under the dark, seductive spell of Dracula. Then taking the Prince of Darkness to the prom…

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