Two woman, Clara (Gemma Arterton) and Eleanor (Saoirse Ronan), running from terrible events, seek refuge in a run-down coastal town. Soon, Clara befriends lonely Noel, who offers the girls shelter in his deserted guest house, the Byzantium. While there, young Eleanor befriends Frank, and as the two grow closer, she shares her story with him, that her and Clara were born 200 years ago, and survive on human blood.
While the premise of Byzantium is that of two ageless girls, turned into vampires, and always on the run to escape both humans who exploit them and the order of vampires who seek to destroy them, the heart of the story is merely one of young Eleanor looking to belong, and Clara looking to live.
It is not long until one grows attached to Eleanor, her child like ways, her morals, and care of others. However, she is a loner, and never lets anyone too close, for know what she really is, she dreads having to harm another.
Clara is almost the opposite pole to Eleanor, running a brothel, recruiting other girls on the pretext of saving them from the streets.
And then, as is always the case, the past catches up with the girls. The order of vampires forbid the turning of a female, or for a female to turn another. They seek to destroy the girls. The local authorities are out to remove Eleanor from Clara’s care, as they believe her entire story to be a fictitious cry for help, from a girl in a family situation that abuses her.
As all these story threads intertwine, and reach their somewhat predictable climax, we are treated to some absorbing acting talent, in a story that could apply in many ways to the lives of many, save for the fact that the girls are vampires.
Byzantium is a sweet tale of want, as the two girls seek their place in the world, and wish to live better lives, free from enslavement, abuse, and with the ability to prosper.
Byzantium is available now, to purchase on disc, in South Africa.
Video is encoded at a high average bitrate, with no visible artefacts on screen. Users with the necessary hardware or software can scale up to a larger or higher resolution screen, if so desired. There is no colour bleed, and the image is steady.
The soundtrack is presented in a Dobly 5.1 mix, and while not excessive, it does make some use of the surround channels, further drawing the viewer into the on-screen events, and expanding the story world. Audio is clear and crisp.
The disc menu system is a simple, static one, but is easy to use and follow.
There are no bonus features on the disc, other than a few previews at the beginning.