tue 23/04/2024

LFF 2013: Only Lovers Left Alive | reviews, news & interviews

LFF 2013: Only Lovers Left Alive

LFF 2013: Only Lovers Left Alive

Tilda Swinton and Tom Hiddleston are vampires to die for, in Jim Jarmusch’s toothsome take on the horror genre

Waiting for the blood bank to open: Swinton and Hiddleston are The Only Lovers Left AliveSandro Kopp

Jim Jarmusch's characters have always been ineffably cool, whether the slackers of Stranger than Paradise, the accountant lost in the Wild West of Dead Man, or the hit man with samurai pretensions of Ghost Dog. It goes without saying that if he makes a film about vampires, they’ll be dripping with style.

From the opening sequence of Only Lovers Left Alive – a spinning camera peering down upon the lounging, elegantly clad, pre-Raphaelite figures of Tilda Swinton and Tom Hiddleston –  this gently satiric vampire film has us in a seductive grasp. Adam and Eve are a married couple who, for reasons of individual temperament rather than marital discord, live in different cities – he in modern-day Detroit, where he lives as a reclusive musician, she in Tangiers, close to her dear friend Christopher Marlowe (John Hurt), who clearly didn’t take a knife in the eye.

But Adam’s distaste for human behaviour (“they’ve contaminated their fucking blood, let alone the water”) is making him suicidal, so Eve decides to reunite with her husband and books an overnight flight to the US.

As a vampire movie it’s distinctive for the absence of brutality; these vampires are peaceful and sorted, buying their blood from doctors, leading quiet, productive lives – Marlowe still writing (and yes, he ghost-wrote for Shakespeare), Adam composing, Eve indulging her love of books. Their aestheticism makes such longevity actually seem worthwhile.

Only Eve’s sister Ava (Mia Wasikowska) fits the hedonistic and murderous stereotype but, as Adam observes disdainfully, she lives in LA. “I feel sick,” Ava complains, after feasting on one of his groupies. “What do you expect?” snarls Eve, “he’s from the music industry.”

The throwaway societal critique make it a minor Jarmusch, but it's nevertheless a witty and lip-smackingly atmospheric take on the milieu.

Their aestheticism makes such longevity actually seem worthwhile


Editor Rating: 
Average: 3 (1 vote)

Share this article

Add comment


Get a weekly digest of our critical highlights in your inbox each Thursday!

Simply enter your email address in the box below

View previous newsletters