We gave it a C-
Bella Swan has had the benefit of my doubt for the previous three installments of The Twilight Saga. But in Breaking Dawn — Part 1, this perpetually sad/sullen/wincing young woman — played as if every scene gives her cramps by the otherwise interesting Kristen Stewart — is a big drip. She’s maddeningly inarticulate. She’s distressingly passive. She’s a bad role model for girls. So, I say enough. Enough with Bella’s depressed, ragdoll posture and her eternal gloom. And a pox on Breaking Dawn, the movie, for its contented complicity with Stephenie Meyer’s ultimately awful message to millions of readers. What we learn in this all-pain/no-pleasure episode is that marriage feels like a life sentence, weddings are miserable events, honeymoon sex is dangerous and leaves a bride covered in bruises, and pregnancy is a torment that leads to death in exchange for birth. Also, during pregnancy, families fight like werewolves and vampires. Way to go, YA message. At least Bella’s wedding gown is pretty. Ooh! Cue the fashion blogs.
Yes, I know, Twilight fans love The Twilight Saga. But they (you?) deserve something better to love.
Nothing goes right for our resigned heroine. She hates the foot-squishing, wobble-inducing high-heeled pumps urged on her by her stylish vampire sister-in-law-to-be Alice (Ashley Greene) — Alice is the designated wedding planner — but Bella doesn’t even know how to put her foot down to demand an alternative. She has incapacitating, panic-attack-sized wedding jitters. (Could she could be panicking because she’s ridiculously young to be getting married to a vampire instead of, oh, furthering her education or pursuing a career or finding out what she really wants out of life? Nah, that’s just the liberal-elite feminist in me talking.) Edward (Robert Pattinson), Bella’s fancy-haired, blood-sucking groom, is solicitous. But since Bella doesn’t know how to speak to her beloved — you know, with words — the two just gaze into each other’s eyes in the shared romantic agony of a young couple in over their heads. Jacob the werewolf (Taylor Lautner, shirtless within 15 seconds of his first appearance) shows up at the wedding, never missing an opportunity to be really, really angry. Bella shows her pleasure at Jacob’s appearance by looking fetchingly stricken — she still loves him, naturally, just not in that way. Jacob responds by being angry.
Bella has the haggard look of a prisoner on her honeymoon with Edward in Brazilian paradise. Director Bill Condon and his production team use every dollar of their big budget to make a very handsome picture, but what’s the fun of luxe scenery (or a fairytale wedding) under such circumstances? Countless blog posts can and will be written about the couple’s honeymoon sex life — ”I’m hurting you!” Edward groans with guilt. ”No. It’s. Good,” says Bella, wincing. Perhaps I’ll add my own blog post to the ephemeral literature in a few days. Just know this: The overall message of Breaking Dawn is that humans must suffer on this earth. Especially women. Jeez, pregnancy and childbirth, staged with exorbitant production-design attention to gyno-catastrophe, look like scenes of full-on, fright-night horror.
As The Twilight Saga grinds to its conclusion with the upcoming Breaking Dawn — Part 2, neither the trendiness of vampires and werewolves, nor the playful vox pop fun of declaring allegiance to Team Edward and Team Jacob are enough to justify the prim sermon of fleshly punishment that is Twilight‘s eternal, hooey-filled message of damnation. C-