Summit Entertainment is insisting on a no-review embargo on Catherine Hardwicke‘s Twilight for another 36 hours or so (12:01 am on Friday, 11.21), although the Chicago Tribune‘s Michael Phillips has said his review will be up tomorrow (i.e., presumably sometime late tonight online). It can be deduced that Summit is expecting a torrent of press negativity. Well, they’re wrong. At least as far as this horse is concerned.
Before last night’s all-media screening at Manhattan’s AMC 25 a publicist got a mid-sized laugh when she told everyone to “keep your reactions to yourself until Friday.” You could hear the murmuring responses…”right!,” “in a pig’s eye!,” etc. You have to give Summit’s top publicist Vivian Mayer props for laying down the law with such whip-cracking vigor, but not long after Twilight started I began saying to myself, “What are Mayer and her Summit bosses thinking? We all know that Titanic-level business among teenage girls this weekend is a foregone conclusion, but do Summit execs really understand what they have here?”
Due apologies to those middle–aged male journalists making smart-ass cracks outside the theatre after it ended, but they’re wrong. They’re living in their own world — blinded, blocking, reactionary. Because within its own emotional teenage-girl, imagining-and-longing-for-the-ideal-boyfriend realm, Twilight… should I say this? I don’t want to anger Vivian Mayer. But what publicist would be upset if a guy like myself, an unregenerate adult-movie, classic-movie, indie-movie, Pasolini-admiring, Kubrick-worshipping fan who hates sitting next to giggling groups of women in cocktail bars — what if a guy like me said that this sucker works?
Because it does. On its own attitudinal terms and given what it’s addressing and saying. And you can take that to the bank and put it in your IRA account. I’ve been in this racket for nearly 30 years and I know when a film is working so don’t tell me.
Does saying “it works” constitute a review? I don’t think so. It’s a two-word declaration. Don’t reviews have to be at least two or three paragraphs long?
I can at least describe the vibe in the room as it played. The crowd , which admittedly was at least half-packed with under-25 women, was with it — engaged, attuned, emotional pores open. Some of them screamed when Robert Pattinson came on screen. Okay, the crowd chuckled here and there at this or that line of on-the-nose dialogue. Big deal. Forgive and forget. The movie had the crowd in the palm of its hand.
And I can at least describe a conversation I had with a sharp Manhattan female columnist in the outer foyer. “Whadja think?” I asked. “I liked it!,” she said, nodding and wearing a serene little smile that spoke of resolution. Then she quickly added, perhaps thinking I was a hater and not wanting to argue, “I’m a girl.” And I said, “And I’m a guy and I don’t think it was half bad! In its own realm it works. And Pattinson is great! And Kristin Stewart is such a good actress that she knows how to finagle her dialogue and it all goes down pretty smoothly.”
That’s what I said to a colleague, okay? Street reportage, not a review. I think it’s fair to say, eminently fair, that Twilight is a lot better than you might have been led to believe. Within the swoony romantic teen-girl ethos it’s an absolute bulls-eye. I suspect it’ll be the biggest power-hitting, repeat-viewing grand-slammer since Titanic. Possibly $200 million, I’m thinking. Young women were palpitating with pleasure as they spoke to a BBC video crew getting reactions outside the theatre.
Here are some talking points from the Tribune‘s Phillips:
Site of last night’s Manhattan screening.
1. Twilight “is low-keyed supernaturalism. Director Catherine Hardwicke (Thirteen, Lords of Dogtown) doesn’t go in for heavy blockbuster or franchise machinery. Likewise, Tuesday’s preview audience at the AMC River East 21 seemed relatively subdued on the way out.”
2. Kristen Stewart’s Bella Swan “is far less the Victorian teen simp than she is in Stephenie Meyer‘s novel.”
3. “The leads look pretty together.Stewart, who played the desert wild child in “Into the Wild,” enters Deep Smolder Mode (Celibate Division) earnestly and well with Robert Pattinson, who’s best known — prior to Twilight — as Cedric Diggory in two of the Harry Potter pictures and here plays Edward Cullen of the mysterious traveling Cullen clan.”
4. “The musical score by Carter Burwell, a frequent Coen brothers colleague, is effective, subtly creepy. No bombast or big orchestral wows.”