Jim Jarmusch’s Only Lovers Left Alive played SXSW this year ahead of its US launch which gave me the perfect opportunity to catch up with a film that Mr. Disgusting loved but left our own Ryan Daley feeling mixed his review.
The film “tells the tale of two fragile and sensitive vampires, Adam (Hiddleston) and Eve (Swinton), who have been lovers for centuries. Both are cultured intellectuals with an all-embracing passion for music, literature and science, who have evolved to a level where they no longer kill for sustenance, but still retain their innate wildness.”
Where did I come down? Did I love it like Mr. Disgusting? Like it like Ryan? Or hate it? Check out my review below (though the headline should give you some idea on this).
Only Lovers Left Alive might be the most Jim Jarmusch movie Jim Jarmusch has ever made. It’s also among his best. The film details a few weeks in the lives of Adam (Tom Hiddleston reminding me why he’s famous) and Eve (Tilda Swinton reminding me she’s human), two lifelong vampire lovers currently living apart for whatever reason (I guess when you’re destined to live forever a few years apart here and there is the undead equivalent of a weekend away). Eve’s currently chilling (I considered not using that word – but it seems appropriate) in Tangiers while Adam is holed up in a house on the outskirts of Detroit making some of the best drone-y noise rock I’ve heard in years.
While Eve is sustained by an inherent Joi De Vivre (and the groovy company of Christopher Marlowe), Adam isn’t doing so well. Despondent over the state of humanity and what he sees as the society crumbling around him, one of the very first things we see him doing is ordering a custom made wooden bullet from an interestingly coiffed Anton Yelchin. Just one. But before he decides to punch out for good he gives Eve a FaceTime (yep) call. Sensing his desperation she flies out to him (navigating international travel that only takes place at night is tricky) in Detroit.
And then they hang out. That’s pretty much it – and it’s wonderful. They’re both passionate, highly literary creatures with a deep love of culture. Guitars… music… books… blood popsicles… it’s rare to see a couple (in real life or in film) so utterly engaged with the world around them and each other. Even if Adam hates what the human race has become, at least he has an opinion on it. They’re highly compassionate, only choosing to harm others for blood when there is no other choice. All of this may sound boring (and for some, it will be) but for me it was almost profoundly enriching.
Trouble comes to town in the form of Eve’s little sister Ava (Mia Wasikowska) but, instead of it being a life threatening proposition (a la Kiss Of The Damned), it’s a minor speed bump. It’s the vampire equivalent of what would happen if your hard partying little sister showed up at your doorstep to hang out for a few days. That’s about as plot-driven as the film gets. And that’s the point.
Only Lovers Left Alive truly is about living. It’s about treasuring those you care about and carving out a life for yourself in the midst of a world you no longer understand. It’s a guidebook for making your own happiness and, in that regard, it’s indispensable.