<em>Twilight</em> stars Robert Pattinson as vampire Edward Cullen.

Hey, you, conservative parents, come over here. That’s right, away from the kids. Here’s a question for you: Are you tired of preaching abstinence and getting nowhere, just like Sarah Palin and her daughter? Well, preach no more, a solution is at hand. Just send your randy teens off to see Twilight, a romance film for the kids that successfully pits the idea of waiting against overwhelming lust-vampiric blood hunger that’s roughly equal to human libido. And these teens don’t just wait for marriage, either. In this tale based on the phenomenally successful Stephenie Meyer novels, Edward (the dizzily handsome Harry Potter guy, Robert Pattinson) tells a willing Bella (Kristen Stewart, who also played new girl in town in The Messengers) that he’ll never suck her neck-even at the prom! Edward dazzlingly suggests withholding fluid exchanges forever. Hear that, Mom?

The only problem is, some kids who’ve read the books are booing at Twilight, lamenting that age-old complaint that the movie doesn’t satisfyingly leap from the detail-studded pages. For all I know they’re probably correct.

Not being a teenage girl, though, I found it extraordinarily good, cheesy fun, gorgeously fleshed out by director Catherine Hardwicke, who also gave us the arch-cautionary teens-at-risk horror story Thirteen. In Twilight Hardwicke affords vivid screen time to the natural beauty of the Pacific Northwest, from scary deer hunts to an almost careless slip Bella takes on some black ice. In moodily beautiful rain country, the romance builds along nearly cliched lines, though often hewing close to the brooding genre tracks laid by classics like Rebecca or Jane Eyre. Bella’s the awkward newcomer who falls for the dark, secretive, older man. Who, in this case, looks 17 but is actually old enough to remember the days of Woodrow Wilson.

It’s not a great vampire movie-wait for the Swedish film Let the Right One In to open for that satisfaction-but Twilight‘s not the cop-out the kids allege either. It’s teen exploitation more concerned with epic love and self-discovery than neck-devouring lust. And for worried parents at least, that doesn’t suck one bit.


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