Twilight is beautiful to look at, with its sweeping vistas, picturesque small town streets and almost inhumanly beautiful cast. It’s well filmed, though there are far too many close-ups and tight two-shots for my taste. The editing is flawlessly; Catherine Hardwicke does a perfectly fine job of eliciting performances from the cast – and the casting is as close to perfect as humanly possible [though Edward really should be a redhead if you want a precise translation from the novel which, yes, I read in anticipation of the movie].
Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart work well as Edward Cullen and Isabella “Bella” Swan. Their chemistry is almost overwhelming in those close-ups and two-shots. Billy Burke is spot on as Bella’s police chief dad, Charlie, and Sarah Clarke is as effective as her mother, Renee Dwyer. Both the school kids and Edward’s family are equally appropriate – though Ashley Greene’s Alice is a small scale revelation.
So why doesn’t Twilight work?
Well, there are far too many moments that might work for fans, but there are as many that will be a source of humor to people who come in to the film cold. Plus there are moments where the film is perhaps too faithful to the books. The lingering looks that Edward and Bella exchange over the course of Twilight could amount to nothing more than two adolescents mooning over each other [“You’re so pretty,” or “You smell so good”]. It comes down to the script isn’t really structured well. There’s too much of the so-close-you-see-the-valleys-in-their-pores close-ups, and the use of a narrator is more than occasionally intrusive [the movie rule being “show – don’t tell”].
If you’re a student of film, you can certainly appreciate how well the film is made. Technically, it’s pretty damn close to perfect – from casting through final edit. If only the the story wasn’t so thin. All that angst and mooning might work in a Harlequin Romance, but in a moving picture [emphasis on “moving”], it simply doesn’t cut it – and not even the brawl between Edward and the evil James [Cam Gigandet] can save it.
Final Grade: C-