Only Lovers Left Alive Review

Only Lovers Left Alive

Jim Jarmusch has previously tackled genres such as the Western and the Samurai movie and left them reeling with his own spin.

So it was only a matter of time before the director turned his attention to Vampires in his new movie Only Lovers Left Alive.

Gore-phobics need not turn away though, as this is a vampire film with little actual bloodletting. In place of the usual violence is a slow-paced meditation on time, love and being the eternal outsider.

Twi-hards should probably avoid however, for this Jarmusch’s new venture probes deeper than any gloopy, teen love-triangle ever could.

Think of an indie-vampire flick in the same, ah, vein as Let The Right One In.

The story revolves around a pair of married, centuries-old vampires: moody, underground musician Adam in the form of Tom Hiddleston and a strong yet tranquil Tilda Swinton shaped Eve.

Both are decidedly bohemian, and then some.

He spends his nights skulking around his heavily-curtained house in Detroit, admiring vintage guitars provided by Ian, his only conduit to the outside world, all the while pondering: just how exactly does an immortal commit suicide?

Meanwhile, she enjoys nocturnal struts through the streets of Tangier, sharing the odd bottle of top-notch blood with older vampire and fellow ex-pat Marlowe.

Over the course of events, Eve pays Adam a visit, he pays her one in return, and in the meantime they muse about eternal life, eternal love and Adam’s disdain for the human race that he’s labelled as ‘zombies’.

These are not your usual celluloid vampires: their blood is strictly obtained by non-violent means; though whether this is to minimise the level of attention drawn by the pair, or is derived from some moral code, remains gloriously ambiguous. The issue of avoiding contaminated blood is also pretty relevant for our times.

The film plays around with the theme of marginality: Adam is hiding from celebrity as much as he is hiding from humanity. And Eve, all blonde hair and pale skin, stands out considerably in her Moroccan environs. The main difference is that she embraces the outsider status, whilst he seems to resent it.

Performance-wise, this is pretty much a two-hander for Hiddleston and Jarmusch favourite Swinton; the former embodies the weary gloom that immortality must surely present, whereas the latter effortlessly evokes a free spirit, seeing her unending life as a gift.

The pair are ably assisted by Anton Yelchin as Ian, John Hurt wizened vampire Marlowe and Jeffrey Wright who provides supplies the blood that Adam demands.

Admittedly, Only Lovers Left Alive sags a little around the halfway mark, but an underused Mia Wasikowska as Eve’s wayward younger sister lends proceedings a much needed second wind at this point.

There are also lashings of dark comedy throughout, particularly involving Hurt’s character. But to say any more would enhance my already strong reputation as a spoiler-spiller.

Overall, fang-boys expecting some serious vamp action should probably keep their distance from this movie.

But the more discerning viewer, on the hunt for a meditative indie flick that just so happens to be about vampires, won’t be disappointed.

Conor Brennan

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Dates ‘n stuff

February 2014