Review

Written and directed by Jim JarmuschOnly Lovers Left Alive is the type of vampire movie only he could make.  Having his own distinct style of writing and directing, Jarmusch has carved out a nice little niche, and his new film follows suit.  Only Lovers Left Alive stars Marvel’s Loki aka Tom Hiddleson as reclusive musician Adam, who happens to be a vampire that has influenced humanity for centuries.  Adam lives in a deserted neighborhood in Detroit, where he lives alone and records music.  Having influenced the greatest artists and scientists in our history, Adam now lives alone and chooses to stay as anonymous as possible.  He gets his blood exclusively from a blood bank, as most human blood has become contaminated (yes, Doritos and Mountain Dew, along with everything else we put in our bodies, have polluted them beyond vampire standards).  Other than making music, the one thing Adam loves is to drive. Using technology made famous by legend Nikola Tesla, he can power both his house and car, and therefore becomes that much more self sufficient, and able to stay out of the spotlight.  The trouble for Adam is that he’s suicidal, as he buys a special wooden bullet, in case he should decide to end his long life.  Across the world is fellow vampire Eve, played brilliantly by Tilda Swinton, who comes to Detroit to be with Adam in his lonely state.  Adam and Eve have been lovers for centuries, and are each others’ soulmate.  They spend their nights listening to music, playing chess, and going on long drives around the depleted city, until they are forced to leave, which also leaves them with no blood.  Only Lovers Left Alive is not your typical vampire film, and explores everything previous vampire movies never did.

Having been around since 1980, Jim Jarmusch certainly has his own unique style of writing and directing.  His films aren’t for everyone, but those who appreciate his work will enjoy his latest effort.  The film is shot beautifully, from the spinning camera fade to the record player at the beginning, to the long driving sequences which are highlighted by the rundown factories of Detroit.  The story is cleverly written, as those from Shakespeare to Tesla are touched upon, and our protagonists having been their influences.  It’s something that only Jim Jarmusch could do, which is take something that’s overdone and completely take it in his own direction.  When I had first heard his next movie was to be about vampires, I wasn’t excited.  But having been reacquainted with his work, I knew he could do something original.  Only Lovers Left Alive is a slow-burning, yet completely satisfying look into the world of modern vampires, and the struggles of living in today’s society.  The film is well-written and shot, but the acting is even stronger.

English actor Tom Hiddleson became an American household name after appearing as Thor’s brother Loki in several Marvel installments.  Even in those films, he was able to display his wide range of abilities, and quickly became a fan favorite.  With the movie on his shoulders, Hiddleson carries the film with grace and ease, and delivers in giving a haunting performance as an extremely depressed vampire.  Alongside Hiddleson, Tilda Swinton is excellent and their chemistry is great to see unfold throughout the film.  Supporting characters John Hurt, Mia Wasikowska, and Anton Yelchin all add some light in what is otherwise a very dark film.  They all do a great job in adding some new faces to a film dominated by Hiddleson and Swinton.  The pacing of the movie lets the relationships play out, and by the end, you feel fairly well-acquainted with the characters.

Only Lovers Left Alive is a very slow film, but rich in detail.  The plot of any Jim Jarmusch film is never the real focus, and while the story is good, it can drag on bit.  The movie seemed to lag on in the middle, as the film could have used a bit more editing.  If the movie was cut down to an hour it would’ve been incredible, but at two hours it does feel long.  Thats honestly one of the only real negatives about the movie.  It’s a well-crafted film that adds a completely new chapter to the vampire craze, which has infected America.  Not being a fan of the vampire lure, I was hesitant to see what the film could bring to the table.  My expectations were blown away with an interestingly written and shot film that will leave you pondering what exactly you just saw.  My initial reaction coming out of the theater was not nearly as positive, but as I sat with the movie in my mind for a few days, my opinion changed.  It’s a movie that will need some time to settle in, as nothing too exciting happens, until you relive the story in your mind and pick out the details and intricacies that make it a unique experience, and yet another staple in the career of Jim Jarmusch.  At 122 minutes, Only Lovers Left Alive is a smart film that, like wine and vampires, gets better with time.

Only Lovers Left Alive stars Tom HiddlesonTilda SwintonMia Wasikowska, John HurtAnton Yelchin, and Jeffery Wright, and opens in theaters April 11, 2014.



About the Author

Peter Towe
Peter Towe
A graduate of UMASS Boston, I have successfully put off getting a "real" job, and continue to watch, produce, review, and obsess over movies. I lived in Boston while I completed my degree, and now live in Chicago trying the improv thing.