Film: The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, Part 2

This momentarily-entertaining piece of fluff will leave you feeling dirty and ashamed. But then again, most fun things do…

-Kathryn Bromwich

If the Twilight saga were a pizza, it would be a Domino’s. Not any particular flavour: whether it is Pepperoni Passion, Mighty Meat or Vegetarian Supreme, it all tastes exactly the same. The Twilight films, similarly, display vestiges of an unnecessarily complicated plot, but true fans know what really matters.

And that is Edward Cullen. Dreamy, brooding Edward Cullen, who listens to Debussy and who the other girls at school find ‘totally gorgeous, obviously’. He is also really wealthy. Oh, and since girls like diamonds, his skin sparkles in the sunlight. Or, depending on your taste, what really matters is buff Jacob, whose aversion to wearing a shirt is matched only by his total lack of a personality.

The first film lured in the legions of fans, with its relatable high school plot about sulky teenagers seduced by dangerous men: it was stupid as hell, but hilariously so (Edward: “And so, the lion fell in love with the lamb”, Bella: “What a stupid lamb”, Edward: “What a sick, masochistic lion”). Director Catherine Hardwicke managed to give it some Thirteen-style gravitas, and it was even, incredibly, critically lauded by the Guardian.

And then the plot went totally bonkers. Highlights included a shot of Bella sulking in a chair for a full year following an apparent break-up with Edward; a tense scene in a tent in which the ‘plot’ demands that hot-blooded Jacob spoon Bella in front of her boyfriend; werewolves talking to each other in weird Batman voices; blood milkshakes; and the most disturbing Caesarean section ever to appear in a 12A.

The strangest thing is the weird insistence on marriage, babies, and opposition to non-marital sex. Nothing in the first film implies that jaded teenager Bella will turn into a married über-mum cooing at her baby within less than a year. A lot has been written about whether Bella is a good feminist role model or not, which perhaps imbues the saga with a significance it should not have. Yes, it is a film where the protagonist is a girl, but it is blatantly just a rather odd sexual fantasy of Stephenie Meyer’s, and as such should not be over-analysed. It also spectacularly fails the Bechdel Test.

If it weren’t for the awful Twilight: New Moon, the final instalment of this would easily be the worst of all. Nothing can justify the last book’s meagre plot being spread thinly over two non-films — except monetary considerations. Everyone’s face looks more CGI’d than ever, which thankfully gives you something to concentrate on while minor character after minor character is trotted out onto the screen. One of these vampires can manipulate the elements, another can control people’s minds, then there are two evil Russian ones with funny accents, an Irish vampire who says one line, some generically exotic-looking women who just kind of look into the distance, and zzzzzzzzz. Emotion is conveyed through extreme close-ups rather than genuine acting. Literally nothing happens for what feels like hours. And let’s not even go into Renesmee and the whole Jacob ‘imprinting’ thing.

In the book, the final confrontation is avoided thanks to a nauseating plot twist where Bella saves the day: she is so strong and full of love that she can protect her family and her clan, so the nasty evil Volturi vampires simply go away. This would make for incredibly dull cinema, so in the film they introduce a twist. They manage to find a way to end the saga that is somehow even worse, yet also kind of brilliant. I wouldn’t want to spoil it but, although it does involve dozens of beheadings, in the end no one really gets hurt. And then there is an excruciating montage of K-Stew and R-Patz gazing longingly into each other’s eyes throughout the other films.

And yet, there is a time and a place for Domino’s. You know you will feel dirty and uncouth at the end of it, and you don’t enjoy it all that much even while it is still happening. But in a masochistic kind of twist, that is partly the point. I have seen (and looked forward to) all the Twilight films. I would never dream of saying they are good or even tolerable, but they do provide a bizarre, badly-scripted, Mormon-inflected respite to the banalities of daily life. And now I’m off to read the entirety of Proust to atone for my sins.

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