Movie Review: Only Lovers Left Alive

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The peaceful undeath of long-lived vampire lovers Adam and Eve is interrupted by Adam’s bout of depression and the interruption of Eve’s “sister” Ava.

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Jim Jarmusch, 2013

When Adam (Tom Hiddleston) becomes tired of his lonely life in Detroit, his wife Eve (Tilda Swinton) comes to him to help him through what clearly isn’t the first bout of depression from the immortal musician. She lives on the other side of the world in Tangier, along with fellow vampire Christopher Marlowe (John Hurt), who is suffering in the modern world. She and Adam spend a few happy days together before her much younger sister Ava breezes into town from LA on a whirlwind of trouble, disturbing their peace. Meanwhile, their search for blood – specifically the good, unpolluted stuff – gets desperate. That’s…basically it.

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When this film is good, it’s really good. It’s surprisingly funny and unsettlingly domestic – this movie follows Adam and Eve through the every day ins and outs of vampirism, from getting blood to staying interested in living to dealing with the unsightly problem of a body drained of blood. There are wonderful, interesting themes, including how to deal with eternal life and the pollution of our bodies and environment. It’s also pretentious and arty, which is somewhat to be expected with a Jim Jarmusch film. There are loooooong scenes where Adam and Eve drive through Detroit (we get it, it’s abandoned, that’s sad) or walk through Tangier; there are also a lot of references to how great the past was and how terrible the present is. Adam revels in the creativity of humanity, yet hates the world as it now exists and decries all mortals as “the zombies”. There’s not a lot of vampire moments, the main characters only given one opportunity to really vamp out – they’re about restraint and isolation, cut off even in public by their shades and leather gloves.

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Blood pops: coolest vampire accessory ever.

Tom Hiddleston and Tilda Swinton make a seductively beautiful couple, ably supported by a whirlwind of destruction in the form of Mia Wasikowska and a sweet but sad turn from John Hurt. Adam and Eve are yin and yang – Eve has long white-blonde hair, wearing light-coloured hair to highlight her paleness (tinged with red after the aforementioned body appears), while Adam’s long black hair and black leather pants make him a rock star of darkness. He writes funeral music and acts like a ridiculous pouty man-child one minute, grumpy old man the next. He gets a lot of the best lines (watch him refer to LA as “zombie central”), but he can also be frustrating, only Eve with her infinite patience able to get along with him.m He’s thouroughly entertaining, and clearly adored by the sparkling Eve, whose love of life touches the few people they’re in touch with. For much of the movie they’re tangled up in each other in their own little world, occasionally disrupted by outside forces. Jarmusch’s foray into vampire lore doesn’t hold up to some of his better films, but if you can get through the longer scenes it’s worth a look.

Only Lovers Left Alive on IMDb

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