I am not now nor have I ever been a 13-year-old girl, but Twilight made me wish I could be, at least for a couple of hours. It would help me appreciate a movie that has been targeted to that demographic with the specificity of a laser weapon.
Any romance fan can tell you that love stories need obstacles, and in this egalitarian age, the traditional obstacles — of class, caste, religion and fortune — are harder to come by.
Twilight's notion is that Edward Cullen is a sexy vampire and Bella Swan is very much alive. Placing this conflict in high school, where emotions are extreme and every moment is a crisis, was the masterstroke that created a publishing-industry phenomenon.
And the film of Twilight succeeds in what it sets out to do — realize that phenomenon for a big-screen audience — because it treats those high-pressure high school emotions with unwavering, uncompromising seriousness; Laurence Olivier essaying Shakespeare didn't approach his material with more reverence than is on display here.
When Twilight opens, 17-year-old Bella is moving to the tiny Washington town of Forks to live with her dad. Even before the plot kicks in, Bella demonstrates the film's key attitude: As a teenager she is, by definition, a deeply superior being, elevated far above the dross of everyday life.
Forks High School holds no charms for this lofty creature — until she spies drop-dead handsome Edward. Aside from being a vampire, he's pretty much the ideal boyfriend.
And though the story's action quotient has been increased to appeal to the random males who might show up at the multiplex, Twilight is unabashedly a romance.
All the story's inherent silliness aside, it is intent on conveying the magic of meeting that one special person you've been waiting for.
Maybe it is possible to be 13 and female after all — for a few hours, at least.