Only Lovers Left Alive (2013)

Only LoversPeople tend to have strong feelings when it comes to Jim Jarmusch. He’s one of those love-him-or-hate-him guys. For me though, I guess I’ve always found myself somewhere in the middle; I loved Down by Law and enjoyed Coffee and Cigarettes well enough, but was left so cold by Dead Man I never gave him another chance. But all it took to spark my interest in his latest, Only Lovers Left Alive, was Tilda Swinton’s mass of white, vampiric hair on the poster. Nothing could be cheesier than saying “I’m a sucker for vampires,” but I’ll be damned if it isn’t true. Yes, even today, when digging on vamps is probably at its lamest, I can’t help but find them irresistible.

And maybe that last point is what made me so interested in this film; why make a vampire movie now? We’re still reeling from the dreaded Twilight saga and stuffed to the gills with sexy vampires in True Blood (uh, is that show still on?). Oh, wait: maybe that’s exactly why Jarmusch chose to do such a film now; to bring some depth and life back into the genre! Well whether that’s what Jarmusch intended, I’d say that’s what he did. And, dear Jim, I am ever so grateful!

Adam (Tom Hiddleston) is a moody musician living alone in a dilapidated house in Detroit. His bibliophilic wife of centuries, Eve (Swinton) lives an ocean away in Tangier, where she hangs out with Christopher Marlowe (John Hurt), her connection to the sweetest French blood around. Marlowe can’t seem to understand why the two live apart when they so very clearly need each-other to survive, a fact which is made painfully clear after the two have themselves a little video chat and Adam reveals that he’s depressed. Like, suicidally so.

And so Eve books a night flight or two to Detroit. It’s pretty much bliss when Adam and Eve are reunited; a sweeter on-screen couple I can’t say I’ve ever seen. But this is a movie, so you know things can’t be pleasant forever. One evening after a long drive around Detroit, Adam and Eve come home to their worst nightmare: Eve’s sister Ava (Mia Wasikowska). And that’s where things start to heat up.

As one might expect from a Jarmusch film, this is not action-packed. These aren’t vicious, blood-sucking monsters, nor are they dripping with lust at their prey (heck, they rarely even see the source of their sustenance). That’s precisely what is so great about it. It is perhaps the perfect antidote to that dreadful blockbuster I’ve now mentioned three times in a row and won’t mention by name here out of respect for this film. I know, the civilized, cultured vampire is not new territory, but these vamps are passionate in their art consumption. What would you do if you lived forever? Learn to play all the instruments, read all the languages, know all the books? With all this beauty around, perhaps the human infestation is worth living through?

What’s that, an inspirational vampire movie? Uh, yeah, I guess it is. It is sweet, and charming, and makes me want to touch old guitars. On top of the great acting and writing, Only Lovers Left Alive is also gorgeously shot and has a killer fucking soundtrack. Holy shit, I loved this movie. I can’t wait to hoard it on my movie shelves and make people watch it!


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