May 6, 2014

Review: The World is a Vampire – 'Only Lovers Left Alive'

Only Lovers Left Alive Jim Jarmusch Tom Hiddleston Tilda Swinton

Only Lovers Left Alive is most easily described as what a vampire film directed by Jim Jarmusch would look like. In predictable form, the charming film explores the more atmospheric feel and mundanity of life as the undead and feeding on blood. At its core, it's about the centuries old relationship dynamic between lovers Adam and Eve, played articulately by Tom Hiddleston and Tilda Swinton.

In this world of vampires, getting blood is trivial work due to a fear of poisoning and other health concerns. International air travel is necessitated by leaving and arriving at night. Adam and Eve are husband and wife living apart in Detroit and Tangier, respectively as both serve as easy metaphors for their immortal existences. Adam is listless and hates everything, particularly humans, whom he refers to insultingly refers to as "zombies". He's a famed musician living with outdated, antiquated equipment in hiding as his fame chases him and he listens to musicians ape his centuries old style. Adam constantly complains about humans killing themselves through their irresponsible actions against their own interests.

The idea of immortality is humorously realized through references of historical events and the whole idea of seeing everything before and being listless to the contemporary society. Detroit and its ruins plays as great backdrop for the idea of the undead living and the undying nature of vampirism. This is contrasted with Eve's world traveller nature in a more cultured setting of Morocco. Contemporary boredom is paralled through supporting characters who at least appear younger, a reckless Ava (played Mia Wasikowska) who's Eve's younger vampire sister and Ian (Anton Yelchin), a rock and roll kid who idolizes and does Adam's bidding.

Jarmusch constructs an amusing, charming film using vampire iconography and thematic tropes to explore characters and cultural attitudes. Adam and Eve are students of culture and history as they show the nature of being in and out of time. Full of ennui and retro cool mythology, Only Lovers Left Alive explores a dying humanity through touchstones of place and history. Every deadpan joke or reference is delivered with a knowing dryness to much delight.

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