Stephenie Meyer's wildly popular novel, Twilight — the first in a four-book series about a 17-year-old girl who falls in love with the hunky vampire who sits next to her in biology class — bored me silly, but that's clearly a minority opinion. In the novel, Bella and her cold-to-the-touch lothario, Edward, talk and talk and talk. For the beautifully photographed (by cinematographer Elliot Davis) film version, screenwriter Melissa Rosenberg (bless her) has pared the couple's blather down to the essentials, as when Edward (Robert Pattinson) says to Bella (Kristen Stewart): "You're my own personal brand of heroin." Poor girl. How could she not succumb? Actually Bella is in love/lust the moment she walks into her new Pacific Northwest high school and sees Edward, who shuns her and then loves her obsessively. Eventually he introduces her to his progressive vampire family — they eat wild animals, not people — and invites her for a game of bloodsucker baseball, where they encounter a vampire thug (Cam Gigandet) who begins stalking Bella. Director Catherine Hardwicke (Thirteen, Lords of Dogtown) has drawn strong, star-making performances from her two leads, but in the end, she is clearly no more interested in vampires than Meyer herself. In the 17-million-copy land of Twilight, the calling card isn't blood and fangs, but the exquisite, shimmering quiver of unconsummated first love. By that measure, the movie version gives really good swoon.
Get the Film Club Newsletter
Stay up to date on the best new movies with our critics' latest reviews, interviews and trailers for the films coming to a theater near you each week.