Monday, June 9, 2014

"Only Lovers Left Alive," Directed By Jim Jarmusch

The setting of "Only Lovers Left Alive" is natural for director Jim Jarmusch, with his predilection for characters drawn to the nighttime and the underground. Adam (Tom Hiddleston) and Eve (Tilda Swinton) are married vampires who, naturally, only come out at night. They're also a world-weary couple who seek to maintain interest in life after thousands of years. It's especially a struggle for Adam, a depressed musician tired of the ways of the "zombies," the regular humans, who are despoiling the planet and don't appreciate the arts of the past. The more resilient Eve lives in Tangier, procures her blood from Elizabethan dramatist Christopher Marlowe and is able to speed read literature from all ages and languages. She agrees to join Adam in his crowded, creepy mansion in a desolate section of Detroit. Driving around at night, they visit a former grand movie house that is now a parking lot, a symbol of the cultural malaise Adam sees all around him. In contrast, Adam's home, in which he composes jarring rock instrumentals, is filled with photos of Franz Kafka, Buster Keaton, Mark Twain, Robert Johnson and others who, while not necessarily vampires, share the couple's artistic predilections.

Adam purchases his blood in canisters supplied by a corrupt hospital researcher, but Eve's mischievous vampire sister Ava (Mia Wasikowska), on a visit, forces the couple to relocate to Tangier after she gets her blood the old fashioned way, by biting into the necks of victims. Abroad, they must grapple with the loss of their blood supply after Marlowe finally dies and the blood has been contaminated, another sign of the wreckage of the planet's resources by the "zombies."

Jarmusch's "undead" characters, in their refined sensibility and malaise, certainly are elitists with a Manichean view of the world. "Only Lovers Left Alive," however, provides a wholly original updating of the vampire mythology by a director known for his startling takes on various film genres.


Michael J. Mand said...

This is no joke. Thank you for helping explain why I liked this movie so much. I've struggled with my feelings toward this film since I left the theater. Btw, the soundtrack is mesmerizing. (All you have to do is find a copy of Wanda Jackson's "Funnel of Love" and insert it as the second or third track to complete the set. Once you see the film, you'll understand.)

Jeff Tone said...

Jarmusch always picks good music: "I Put A Spell On You" by Screamin' Jay Hawkins in "Stranger Than Paradise," "There Is An End" by The Greenhornes in '"Broken Flowers."

Glad you found my review illuminating.

DrPaula said...

brilliant as usual -- you and Jarmusch.

Jeff Tone said...

Coming from you, my good friend, that is the highest compliment!