Hiddleston and Swinton Are More ‘Alive’ than Dead
Sparkly skin and overly-coiffed hair have become the go-to visual for vampires thanks to the ‘Twilight’ series, but the heartthrob craze has died down considerably since the last film, and sophisticated, dangerous versions of the creatures have stepped back into the spotlight.
Leave it to Jim Jarmusch to provide a fresh take on the genre with his latest film, “Only Lovers Left Alive.”
The highly eccentric director, known and beloved for cult hits like “Mystery Train” and “Dead Man” positions his vampires as outsiders living as quietly as possible in a fast-paced world, watching helplessly as it is continuously changed and molded by those with a limited life span.
Adam (Tom Hiddleston) is a moody musician whose morose outlook on life is cultivated through his past friendships with romantic figures like Lord Byron. After many years of influencing and advancing the careers of many artists throughout history, Adam has become a reclusive but highly popular musician, and is convinced of humanity’s doom thanks to the “zombies.”
Living in a secluded dump of a house located in the far corners of abandoned Detroit, Adam fills his living space with barely-working appliances, vintage rare instruments and records, which he releases in private.
Adam’s only connection to the outside world is through Ian (Anton Yelchin), a highly resourceful and naïve young human fan that brings Adam what he needs and insists continuously that Adam should meet his fans and revel in his fame.
In addition, Adam makes trips to a local hospital where a lab technician (Jeffrey Wright) exchanges vials of blood for large rolls of cash.
Miles away in Tangier, Michigan, lives Adam’s wife Eve (Tilda Swinton), who is older by nearly half a century and possesses the innate skill of being able to discern the exact age of an object just by touching it.
Eve is just as fond of antiques as Adam, but has a far sunnier outlook on life and embraces modern humanity with open arms — her iPhone is never far from her hand.
Eve receives her blood supply through her dear friend and fellow vampire Christopher Marlowe (John Hurt), an aging writer from the Elizabethan era who claims to have written most of Shakespeare’s plays.
After a video chat in which Eve determines that Adam’s moroseness is bordering on suicidal, she quickly hops on the next flight to Detroit in an effort to cheer him up.
The couple is blissful in their reunited love, and heart-warming scenes of domesticity take place.
There are night drives around the beautifully desolate Detroit, the sharing of blood popsicles over games of chess, spontaneous dance sessions and philosophical debates, all of which are threatened by the sudden arrival of Eve’s younger sister Ava (Mia Wasikowska).
There is little of a coherent plot within this film, which can be a source of frustration for many. Instead the movie moves at a quiet, slow-paced crawl that portrays the mysterious Adam and Eve in an incredibly human light.
The lovers, who are played to subtle perfection by Swinton and Hiddleston, are perhaps the most cultured and sophisticated vampires seen on the big screen in quite a while, but Jarmusch reminds us that at the core, they still are blood-feeding creatures.
Most notable about this film is the fact that it firmly keeps away from being a thriller or action drama. Jarmusch instead uses the movie as a piece of contemplation on the things that keep us motivated to live — love, relationships, various forms of good art and yes, basic nutritional sustenance.
A beautifully meditative film that questions what drives the will to live and the consumption and cultivation of art, “Only Lovers Left Alive” provides a breath of fresh air within the overly-tired vampire genre.
ONLY RECOMMENDED IF: You’re not looking for thrills or action. Also if you want to see Tom Hiddleston without his shirt on.