Walter Mencken 6:15 p.m., Feb. 28
Review: Twilight: Breaking Dawn: Part 1
My son, upon my return from the screening: "So, are they married yet?"
Me: "Yes, they get married."
Son: "So it's over."
Me: "No, there's lots that comes after."
Son: "That doesn't make any sense! Romance stories are supposed to end when the couple gets together! Happily ever after!"
Me: "Well, son, this is more a film about families - the vampire family, the werewolf family. Family is what comes after marriage, if you catch my meaning."
Son: "So she gets pregnant?"
Me: "Oh, yes."
OMG. You guys, this film is amazing. I'm not saying it's good, exactly; it's too much of a hot mess for that kind of praise. (Also, the soundtrack is too horribly inappropriate in too many places.) But it's compelling, oh hell yes it is.
There is such commitment to the bubbling cauldron of white-hot emotional fervor, such purity of feeling, that it is hard not to be overwhelmed. When someone tries to bring the snark at 18-year-old Bella Swan's wedding to 100-year-old vampire Edward Cullen, it goes over like, well, a fart in church (even though we're in the woods). Snark is an attempt at self-aware humor, and everybody here is way too sincere for that kind of nonsense. Also, to judge from the expressions on everybody's (and most of all, Bella's) face, everybody is too anxious and miserable. For a teen-girl fantasy, this is one heck of a somber Special Day. It's as fraught and fragile a moment as prom!
And with good reason. Jacob the jilted werewolf shows up to say his goodbyes, and when he hears that Edward is planning to deflower Bella while she's still human, he is furious. "You'll kill her!" he snarls. And it looks like he might be right. Not because of the bed-shattering, arm-bruising sex, but because of its unforseen consequences. ("I didn't even know this was possible," says Edward, sounding like every surprised teen father ever.) And that's the drama of Breaking Dawn, Part 1: what to do about an unplanned pregnancy that is most definitely injurious to the life or health of the mother. Because the father is, you know, a vampire. Sample dialogue:
Vampire 1: "The fetus is not good for Bella!"
Vampire 2: "Say, 'Baby'!"
Vampire 1: "Carlisle, do something!"
Bella: "It's not his decision. It's not any of yours."
Jacob, meanwhile, is having some family issues of his own, thanks to the Alpha Male's decision that the vampire-human hybrid poses too great a threat, and must be taken out. Dog life: it ain't easy.
It's all too very, completely sold out to its brand of B-movie intensity. I couldn't help but admire it.
Reader rating: Two stars.