Your standard story where a teen moves to live with her father, enrolls at a new school, starts to make friends and before you know it meets a vampire, developing a suggestive yet chaste relationship based on longing stares, immortal love and co-dependent tendencies before the final action packed finale. Sort of a "abstinence now" version of Buffy the Vampire Slayer crossed with a Victorian era novel - set to music at home on the CW network.
As everyone on the planet knows this film is based on a series of young adult books. If you didn't know you'd probably figure it out soon enough from the squealing female fans that seem to congregate around theaters playing this movie. When I went to see Milk an preview screening of Twilight had just let out (or just started) and there were a fair amount of that demographic hanging around.
I went in with fairly low expectations. But I thought I'd give it a try. I've liked the Buffy/Angel genre, a smattering of Anne Rice, The Southern Vampire Tales, and even managed to get through a few Anita Blake novels (before they got way to ridiculous for my taste). Some of these things work better on the page, some better on the screen. I'm not sure I'd particularly enjoy the Twilight novels, but I must admit I sort of got into this film.
The setup is as follows. Bella (pictured above) moves to the Pacific Northwest to live with Dad. There she meets Edward and falls instantly in love. Edward is part of a group of vampires that live in the area and keep up their cover by attending high school. There are so many jokes to be made about immortality not being worth the trade-off of spending eternity in high school - but that seems intentional as this is not a film based on subtlety. Edward lives with several adopted siblings - together the worst job of blending into a high school ever. For one, they're all very very pale (as if they were wearing way too much makeup or perhaps dead). Second, the various siblings are openly dating each other. Now Washington is a pretty live and let live sort of place - but you'd think that would raise some eyebrows. "Dad" is the town doctor - and is also laughably white. But don't worry 'cuz these are the good vampires, only drinking the blood of animals. Though Bella poses problems from Edward due to her irresistible bloody goodness. He struggles to resist drinking her blood. She misinterprets his resistance as hatred for her. So of course they become inseparable in short order.
Of course where you have "good" vampires you've got to have some bad ones. No surprise there. But the film is less about the risk these evil undead folks pose than about the relationship between the two main characters. In spite of myself eventually the over the top cheesy interactions between the two grew on me and I enjoyed the movie (pulled along by the ever present soundtrack). Some of the scenes are so goofy-bad it was enjoyable - though I don't think that was the film maker's intent. I can't quite put my finger on why the relationship between the two leads works. But once I got past Edwards general appearance (which seems to follow the movie cliche of the "French exchange student" look) I just went along for the ride.
For whatever reason I felt I got my money's worth and I'm not going to question it. Perhaps it's something like my experience with Bring it On - which apparently was a serious movie that I enjoyed thinking it was satirical. Or maybe I'm just a total sap for any love story with supernatural challenges. Regardless, I'm not running out to buy the books but I'll likely give the inevitable sequel a try.