Review: Only Lovers Left Alive

Submitted by petrocs on April 13, 2014 - 9:51am


Returning after a four year absence, indie filmmaker Jim Jarmusch has returned to present his newest creation. A film maker known for his minimalistic style whose early work often stray from traditional style of conveying the narrative and focus more on mood and character development. Jarmusch creates films that center around withdrawn and sorrowful protagonists who are searching for a reason to continue through the struggles of their existence.  Jarmusch's love for eccentric styles of music is another characteristic that leads to the telling of the story and allows for the tone of the film to be set. All of which are equal parts in the presentation of this melancholy take on the Vampire genre, Only Lovers Left Alive.

After centuries of life as a vampire, Adam (Hiddleston), a passionately creative musician and science enthusiast, has spent most of his life influencing the work of many famous people in these industries. In the present day, Adam has found himself a recluse who spends his days experimenting with new sounds and creating music to share with the world. Adam has become repulsed by the current state of the human body and lives solely on blood-bank donations regularly supplied by Doctor Watson (Wright). Adam lives in an aging brick and mortar home in a seemingly abandoned neighborhood in the outskirts of Detroit. The content of Adam's house, filled with outdated technology (TV's, radios, recording equipment), invite us into his psyche and the state of which Adam sees life, the feelings of yearning for a simpler time and a fear of a doomed future.

A fellow music lover and business associate Ian (Yelchin), who brings Adam a supply of vintage guitars and recording equipment, is also the one who helps facilitate the distribution of Adam's "mystery" music. Upon visiting Adam on one of his normal deliveries, Ian is presented with a request for an unusual item, a wooden bullet, for which Ian politely agrees without hesitation. As the days go by, Adam finds himself feeling an increasing need to take his own life. In a moment of reflection, Adam receives a video phone call from his wife, Eve (Swinton), who senses something is wrong. Eve, who currently resides in Tangier, flies to Detroit to be with her eternal love. Eve, who has also sworn off the drinking of human blood thru the "old ways," and provides the much needed companionship that Adam sorely was searching. Evenings of dancing, long drives thru the desolate jungle of Detroit and moments of conversation that allow for silent reflection into the state of their lives. The pairs reunion is abruptly crashed by Eve's wild-child sister, Ava (Wasikowska), who soon adds chaos and anxious feelings into their lives and ultimately leads the couple to make some hard choices.

Only Lovers Left Alive is a beautiful love story which deserves to be seen time and time again. Performances by the supporting cast are stellar with Yelchin and Wasikowska adding a youthful vibrance to an otherwise moody landscape. John Hurt turns in another fine performance in his amazing career as the fellow vampire, and English dramatist, Christopher Marlowe and Jeffrey Wright turns in an admirable performance. The performances of Hiddleston and Swinton add a warmth and otherworldly cool that power this film from beginning to end. Each actor embraces the role with a grace and beauty that would make Shakespeare proud.

Fanatics of the vampire genre will be hard pressed to compare this film with any other vampire story they've ever seen before. Jarmusch allows for the cliche's of past vampire lore to remain present while, at the same time, not allowing them to overpower the ultimate telling of the story. But, given the proper audience, this film has a chance to provide a spark to an otherwise dried out genre.

Stars: 4 out of 5

Petrocs (aka Michael Petrelli) is the Cinemit forum moderator and hosts the Cinemit podcast.