Twilight is a movie for anyone who has been swept away by fervent desire, ecstatic love, an aching of the heart, fear of rejection, and an acute sense of buoyancy when in the presence of a beloved. This state of feeling was captured by poet Elizabeth Barrett Browning: "The face of all the world changed, I think." The actress Liv Ullmann said of this brand of intense love: "I felt as though the clouds were not on the horizon but under my feet. How sweet it was." If you've ever felt this way, you'll get this movie and its enormous appeal to those longing for or experiencing a first love.
The film is based on the first of Stephenie Meyer's four-book series which has sold 17 million copies worldwide and spawned more than 350 fan websites. Catherine Hardwicke (Thirteen) directs from a screenplay by Melissa Rosenberg. There have been many, many movies about the different shades of teenage infatuation but this one explores fresh territory with its bold treatment of the romantic relationship between a vulnerable girl and a vampire. While there are horror story elements in the drama, the heart and soul of the story revolves around the tantalizing and compelling exhilarations of love in all its mysterious constellations.
Seventeen-year-old Bella (Kristen Stewart) has been living in Arizona but when her mother starts traveling with her new husband, she decides to go live with her father (Billy Burke), who is the Chief of Police in Forks, Washington. The move is quite an adjustment; it's a town of only 3,000 people and the sky there is almost always overcast or it's raining. At her new high school, Bella would prefer to keep to herself, but she is immediately attracted to another loner, Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson), a dark, handsome, and mysterious adolescent. There's something really different about him: his eyes change color; his hands are cold; and he seems to be put off balance in her presence, as if she smells bad. Then one day in the school's parking lot, Bella is in the path of a careening car, and Edward literally races to her rescue, pushing back the car with his arm. Later, he rescues her from an attack by a band of young men. It is obvious that he wants to draw closer to her in an intimate relationship but something is blocking the way.
Bella eventually discovers that Dr. Carlisle Cullen (Peter Facinelli) and his wife Esme (Elizabeth Reaser) have adopted Edward and four other young vampires (Ashley Greene, Nikki Reed, Jackson Rathbone, and Kellan Lutz). They have trained themselves to consume only animal blood, which is the equivalent to a human going on a vegetarian diet. They live in an isolated mansion where they stay away from school on sunny days (when their skin takes on a diamond-like appearance) and desperately try to keep their secret from others.
After Bella learns the truth about Edward's identity, they forge an uneasy bond: he lets her into his vampire world of mind reading, phenomenal speed and agility, and no sleep, and she yearns for the ultimate connection with him that can only come through allowing herself to be transformed into a vampire. A visit to his home is filled with surprises, not the least of which is a baseball game interrupted by three nomadic vampires (Cam Gigandet, Edi Gathegi, Rachelle Lefevre) who smell Bella's presence in the Cullen group and vow to dispatch her as a tasty meal.
Twilight is a supernatural fantasy tale that comes across as a thought-provoking meditation on adolescent love. It mirrors the head-over-heels feeling that can cause us extreme joy and incredible pain, great happiness and grueling despair. As we would expect in a film about vampires, it does reveal some of the shadow side of love: Edward's possessiveness, Bella's insecurity and submissiveness, their mutual fear of the changes that time might bring to their relationship. But rather than detract from this love story, these counterpoints enhance it.
We are caught up in and transfixed by the romance that develops between Bella and Edward. We understand Edward's obsession with Bella and his need to be constantly near her (he even enjoys watching her sleep at night). We identify with Bella's yearning for ecstatic union with Edward and her desperate need to find a way for them to live in the same world. These two young and beautiful lovers are willing to endure the fury of emotions for the rollercoaster ride of love; they are willing to risk everything to retain that intoxicating feeling. In this impulse, they are not alone.