Letter From The Editor - Issue 59 - October 2017

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Writing Fantasy

  
At The Picture Show
November 2009

This, too, shall pass

In the future, 'New Moon' fans will look back on this childish drivel and laugh

The Twilight Saga: New Moon
Summit Entertainment
Director: Chris Weitz
Screenplay: Melissa Rosenberg, based on the novel by Stephenie Meyer
Starring: Kristen Stewart, Taylor Lautner, Robert Pattinson, Ashley Greene, Anna Kendrick, Billy Burke and Michael Sheen
Rated PG-13 / 2 hours, 10 minutes
Opened November 20, 2009
ZERO stars (out of four)

If I didn't know any better, and you told me that The Twilight Saga: New Moon was written by a 13-year-old girl, I would believe you unreservedly. Remember the maladjusted tween we all knew in eighth grade - the one who wrote awful, obscenely romanticized poetry? This is like seeing the contents of her head emptied out onto celluloid.

The only thing is, the Twilight series is actually the product of a grown-up. Notice I didn't use the word adult. Nothing this childish and emotionally stunted is worthy of the distinction.

To be fair, you could defend Twilight's point of view were the main character 12 years old, or if the film had any self-awareness at all. But no. The heroine, Bella (Kristen Stewart), is 18 years old, presumably intelligent, presumably a reasonable person. Yet she has all the emotional maturity of a child.

Worse yet, the film treats her plight with the kind of deathly serious tone usually reserved for actual tragedy - not the silly romantic embellishments of children. Who, I wonder, actually reads or watches any of this and believes this is the way people do or should think, feel and behave? Certainly I must question the worldview of a person who takes any of the emotional pretext in the Twilight series seriously.

New Moon and its predecessor epitomize the ludicrous romanticization of everything that has ever been ludicrously romanticized - puppy love, death, adolescence, chastity, tragedy, heartbreak, angst, suicide, long walks on the beach, you name it. It's also, for that matter, a shallow, half-hearted allegory about abstinence and homosexuality.

From the opening shot of New Moon - Bella fast asleep on her bed, next to a copy of (all together now) Romeo and Juliet - you know you're going to be in for some excruciating pap. I mean, really? That's what they came up with? The most obvious, overused romantic/tragic reference point in literary history?

Bella and her glimmering vampire lover, Edward (Robert Pattinson), waste no time waxing poetic about it, of course. Both of them are sad and mopey, you see - she because she knows she's someday going to grow old, while her boy toy will stay the same age; and he because he can't imagine ever living without her once she's gone. Oh, the horror! What ever will come of the fate of the world if Bella and Edward cannot be together forever?!

Edward hilariously deadpans things like, "You're my only reason to stay alive, if that's what I am," and "You give me everything just by breathing." Bella counters with a few gems of her own - something about a hole in her heart, or feeling like she's going to disappear, or something equally inane. Does it matter?

The most distracting thing about this coupling - aside from the dialogue, of course - is the fact that we can't take either character seriously. Bella is basically an emotional lunatic, only the film never realizes it. Edward has exactly zero interesting character traits - save for the as-yet-undetermined purpose of that ridiculous haircut.

The way the "love story" plays out, it seems more like the two are in love with the teenage notion of being in love, rather than being attached to anything tangible. Edward claims he loves Bella because she's intelligent and independent - but she certainly doesn't act that way, does she? And as for Bella's attachment - well, the film never gives us any reason to explain that. Is it just because Edward is so dreamy and glittery? And if it is, doesn't that just further expose this romance as being 100 percent superficial? Realistically, Edward is an empty, passive-aggressive lurch.

Certainly Pattinson's absolute lack of charisma or screen presence doesn't help; opposite him, I felt legitimately bad for Kristen Stewart, a genuinely terrific actress who's unfortunately gotten her big break in a franchise like this one.

Edward doesn't appear in New Moon a great deal - he leaves in order to protect Bella, and insists that he will never see her again. And so, despite the protests of her fluttering heart, Bella begins to strike up a flirtation with her childhood friend Jacob (Taylor Lautner) in Edward's absence. Devoted followers of the Twilight series will certainly know more about the trajectory of this love triangle than I do - but then again, after seeing this movie, I don't care to know.

Not to be outdone by Edward's superficiality, Jacob is defined by two things - he can fix cars, and he can dramatically remove his shirt. Basically, he's a male version of Megan Fox in Transformers.

Oh, and he's also a werewolf. (Well, to be more specific, a poorly rendered CGI werewolf, but a werewolf all the same.)

I could get into detail about the conflict that arises between the three principal characters, but I wouldn't want to waste anyone's time. Those that are already interested will know the story by heart anyway.

Regardless of what is actually happening, however, the lasting effect we get is an endless array of scenes where the characters stare longingly at each other, pine for one another, cry, whine and mope over each other, etc. I don't know if I've ever seen more self-pitying characters taken so seriously by a film.

New Moon is romantic wish fulfillment of the most ridiculous order - the kind that seems to have been written by someone who never grew up. The result is one of the most sterile romances I've ever seen.

This is a movie seemingly designed for the emotionally immature. Its existence is symptomatic of a case of arrested development. It is demonstrably stupid. There's no way to sugarcoat it. What I can say, to the devoted fans of Twilight, is this: You will grow out of this.

Read more by Chris Bellamy


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