Title: Only Lovers Left Alive
By: Recorded Picture Company
Seen on: February 10
Jim Jarmusch is famous for his slowly developing, moody, intense films and Only Lovers left Alive fits that bill perfectly. It is poetry on film. It is much more about the atmosphere than about the story, but that is not necessarily a bad thing. At all.
Only Lovers left Alive is about Adam and Eve, two centuries old vampires. It is not a film about vampires though. It is a film about love. Them being vampires is nothing more than an extra layer to that love story. It raises the question of how love evolves or changes or stays if commitment isn’t just for about 60 or 70 years, but for centuries. How do you love when you have hundreds of years together instead of a few decades?
Adam is played by Tom Hiddleston. He lives in Detroit, a desolate, empty city, where he has a house in a deserted area. He is a recluse musician, depressed with the world and the “zombies” as he calls them. The humans. He has one zombie-friend, Ian. Ian does things for Adam, like find him rare instruments or sheet music. Or a special wooden bullet, when Adam becomes suicidal. Adam lives alone, his wife Eve not with him.
Eve is played by the amazing Tilda Swinton. I have always been a big fan of hers, and she is wonderful in this film. Eve is the light to Adam’s darkness, both literally and metaphorically, and when she realizes Adam is depressed and maybe even suicidal, she packs her bags and moves to be with him in Detroit. She lives in Tangier at the beginning of the film, with another vampire, Christopher Marlow, played by John Hurt. He is somewhat of a mentor of hers. She leaves him behind when she goes to Adam, but they reunite later in the film.
Fun fact: The film constantly insinuates Christopher Marlow actually is William Shakespeare. Or is he? 😛
Not long after Eve arrives in Detroit, her little sister Ava visits. She is a bit of a menace, young and brash and clueless. She foregoes the vampire custom of having to be invited into someone’s house (which Adam finds annoyingly rude), drinks too much of their carefully obtained stash of blood (which Adam again finds very annoying, it’s not easy getting the blood), and eventually even drinks Ian to death (which again, Adam is not amused about). Adam eventually kicks her out, but Ava is a lovely reminder of how the greater public thinks about vampires. It’s a lovely contrast to Adam and Eve’s style and class.
I think what mostly struck me about this film is the atmosphere it creates. The music is gorgeous, by Jim Jarmusch’s own band Squrl among others, and the slow shots and storyline makes it feel like sweet syrup flowing down your throat and into your blood. Adam and Eve are moving in a pace different from ours. It’s unhurried, floaty, ethereal, and almost otherworldly. There is something very special about it. It immediately pulls you in and won’t let go until the end.
Just a little warning for those planning to watch it: It is not your typical cinema film. It is a small “independent” film, not out to wow with story or excitement or surprising plot twists. It is about experience, enhancement of the senses, and beauty. Keep that in mind when you see it and you will fall in love with the characters and the film.