The big tease turns into the long goodbye in The Twilight Saga: New Moon, the juiceless, near bloodless sequel about a teenage girl and the sparkly vampire she, like, totally loves. When last we saw Bella (Kristen Stewart) and her pretty dead guy, Edward (Robert Pattinson), in Twilight — the series hadn’t been saga-fied yet—the two had pledged their troth, a chaste commitment solidified during moody walks in the woods, some exhilarating treetop scrambling and a knockdown fight with a pack of vamping vampires.
But love is cruel and sometimes so too are multi-volume juggernauts such as Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight series, which are as much about narrative delay as resolution. That’s the case here, given that Edward belongs to a stylish vampire clan that has given up human blood in order to live, if conspicuously out of place, in a Washington town called Forks. The problem is that a vampire who doesn’t ravish young virgins or at least scarily nuzzle their flesh isn’t much of a vampire, which initially makes Edward’s disappearance from the second film seem like a good idea.
Hounded: Bella throws herself into dangerous situations in this film.
New Moon opens with Bella turning 18, a happy occasion that takes a frightening turn during a party at Edward’s house. Edward saves Bella, but soon decides to split town. Dead or alive, men can be brutes (authors too): He also tells her that she’s not good for him. This throws her into a depression that director Chris Weitz (The Golden Compass, About a Boy), tries to translate into cinematic terms, mostly by circling Bella with the camera as the months melt away. She, of course, belongs to Edward, who, though physically gone, hasn’t left the picture. Realizing that her vampire has gone, Bella begins throwing herself into ever more dangerous situations.
Although this perks up the proceedings, the spectral image of Edward only underscores how damaging it is to separate Romeo from Juliet, even if there’s a hormonally revved-up teenage wolf lurking in the shadows. Chastity is only hot, after all, when it seems like it actually might be violated.
By Manohla Dargis ©2009/The New York Times
New Moon released in theatres on Friday.