Only Lovers Left Alive


Have you ever thought about what it might be like to be a vampire? To not be able to expose yourself to sunlight, to have to drink blood to survive, and to be able to effectively live forever?

A point which I believe many vampire movies miss is that many, if not most vampires would be very smart. Think about it. You travel around (slowly, since you can only travel at night) meeting people and accumulating experiences. Even if you’re not blessed with a high IQ, you would still be able to appear very smart just by knowing a lot of history and random facts.

Only Lovers Left Alive is Jim Jarmusch’s reimagining of the vampire genre. Jarmusch who’s other films include Dead Man, and Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai (my previous favourite Jarmusch film), weaves together a tale about two of the coolest vampire role models one might imagine. Tom Hiddleston plays Adam, while Tilda Swinton plays Eve – both polymaths who are fluent in many languages and have from time to time meddled in the history of humanity, interacting with famous scientists and musicians over the course of their very long lives.

Adam has grown depressed about the direction that humanity has taken and has become a reclusive musician in Detroit who toys with the idea of taking his own life. His wife of many centuries detects this depression during a phone call and flies from her home in Tangiers to meet him. When reunited, they lead a idyllic existence playing chess and enjoying icy poles made from blood (pictured above) for a time until they are interrupted by Eve’s troublemaking sister, Ava.

Literary and scientific references abound, as well as clever little vampire gags. I think I what I loved most about this film was that the lead characters had no specific agenda – they were just ordinary people who happened to have lived for a very long time, could only go out at night, and who had to drink blood to survive. No strange conflicts between humans and vampires, good and evil, or any of that overdramatic stuff – just two vampires enjoying each other’s company… alongside the occasional reference to quantum entanglement (or “spooky action at a distance” as Einstien called it (actually, he said “spukhafte fernwirkung”)).

If you’re not into dialogue-heavy films, then you probably should give this a miss. Not an awful lot really ‘happens’ in this film, it’s just a look into the everyday life of what eternal love within the context of eternal life might actually look like if you allow yourself to believe in such things. There’s a ton of great lines too as well as a soundtrack featuring Jarmusch’s band Sqürl which sets a perfect audio landscape (soundscape?) backdrop to the dark and eerie visuals. It was entered in the competition section at the Cannes film festival, where it lost out to La Vie d’Adele which I have also reviewed here.

I really liked this film. It could be because of the high opinion I hold of the person who recommended it to me, it could be because it hits very close to home during an unusual and difficult point in my life, or it could be because it’s just very good. Go see it.

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