Wednesday, 5 February 2014

Only Lovers Left Alive Review



Being immortal would be bloody boring. Imagine being a vampire who has lived for centuries, seen it all before and is thoroughly tired of wandering the earth, looking for the next bloody fix. Jim Jarmusch’s vampire film drives a stake through the heart of the Twilight franchise, rising from the slow but painfully successful death of those dreadful genre killers to offer something fresh and completely captivating.

Adam (Tom Hiddleston) and Eve (Tilda Swinton) are centuries old vampire lovers, now living apart; Adam in Detroit and Eve in Tangier. Securing blood through murder in the modern world is now out of the question so they spend their lives slowly and ploddingly finding their next drink in their respective dying cities. Securing their supply without killing people and drinking their blood, these vampires have almost become like vegetarians; moving beyond slaughter to feed themselves. With Adam suicidal, Eve decides to visit him and the pair rekindle their old romance before Eve’s devilish little sister Ava (Mia Wasikowska) turns up to wreak havoc.


Adam surrounds himself with recording equipment that looks like it has taken him a lifetime to amass. He sits alone in his haunted old house in Detroit, avoiding the humans he calls zombies and making moody music. Like his vinyl, Adam's life is cyclical; going round and round interminably and making him desperately unhappy. He is sick of the modern world and progress; anti-downloading, anti-YouTube and pining for the old days. His collection of equipment and love of old instruments keeps him going but barely.

When he and Eve get together, they speak like people out of time, pondering the fate of scientists through history and reminiscing about their time spent with literary greats like Shelley and Byron. Calling humans zombies, they see us as the plague that infests the earth not their kind who cherish our history and creativity. Adam and Eve might very well have been the first people on the planet but if so, they are well and truly fed up with life. Tom Hiddleston manages to look utterly bored without ever becoming boring. Ennui has set in big time and even the constant craving for blood can’t save him. Blood is a drug; they turn it into frozen popsicles, down shots, guzzle it from a hip flask and then they fall semi-comatose from their fix.


Like junkies, they only come out at night. Cruising the streets in Adam’s car, the lovers look perpetually cool in their sunglasses and black and white clothes. Night time in Detroit is alluring as the lovers prowl around the destitute city waiting for the end of time to come. Detroit is a wasteland; a wilderness for vampires to wander as Jarmusch follows Adam's white Jaguar through the streets.

With a beautiful score and brilliant song choices like Trapped by a Thing Called Love by Denise La Salle and Can't Hardly Stand It by Charlie Feathers, the atmosphere of boredom, of centuries gone past and the decline of human civilisation is depressing. However, the lovers’ curiosity, knowledge and passion for each other is inspiring. We learn little bits about their lives but there is so much more to explore. Only Lovers Left Alive will leave you curious about what came before, leaving countless questions answered.


Eve's sister Ava arrives unexpectedly to stir things up. Wasikowska adds a welcome spark to proceedings if taking the story down a more predictable route for a while. There are all the usual nods to vampire mythology with wooden bullets, pale skin, aversion to sunlight, thirst for blood and lightning quick reflexes all referenced but more interestingly John Hurt pops up as (presumed) long-dead writer Christopher Marlowe. Anton Yelchin also plays a small but pivotal part but the film belongs to Swinton and Hiddleston who look and feel like two people who have been living far longer than they could have imagined. Only Lovers Left Alive may capture the world-weariness of their existence but it also has many very funny touches to lighten the mood. Only Lovers Left Alive is spellbinding; the best vampire film since Let the Right One In.

More reviews from I Love That Film:

The Wolf of Wall Street

Out of the Furnace

Philomena

Dallas Buyers Club

12 Years A Slave

American Hustle

All is Lost

The Railway Man

Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom

Captain Phillips