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Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Sean Kelly

My Thoughts on Only Lovers Left Alive

onlyloversleftaliveFrom cult independent filmmaker Jim Jarmusch (Dead Man, Broken Flowers) comes the brooding vampire romance Only Lovers Left Alive.  Adam (Tom Hiddleston) is a centuries-old vampire, who currently lives a reclusive and depressed life in Detroit as a rock musician, with his only contact with the outside world being a human named Ian (Anton Yelchin), who provides Adam with guitars and recording equipment.  Adam’s old lover Eve (Tilda Swinton) travels from Tangiers to be with him, in an effort to get Adam out of his suicidal funk.  However, the rekindling of the two vampire’s romance is disrupted by the arrival of Eve’s uncontrollable sister Ava (Mia Wasikowska).

While I have been familiar with the works of Jim Jarmusch for many years, Only Lovers Left Alive marks the first time I’ve seen one of this films.  I was quite interested in how this renowned independent filmmaker would tackle the vampire genre, which received a bit of a revival over the course of the last decade.  The vampires seen in Only Lovers Left Alive are more akin to the romanticized interpretation, found in Anne Rice novels, than the bloodsucking monsters in horror films.  In fact, both Adam and Eve have evolved past attacking humans for blood and now receive their supply from blood banks and doctors, including one played by Jeffrey Wright.  Adam has lived long enough to the point where he has gotten depressed with how humans, who he calls zombies, have been slowly destroying themselves (and contaminating their blood).

Much of Only Lovers Left Alive is dependent on the chemistry between Tom Hiddleston and Tilda Swinton, who spend much of the film’s running time alone together in Adam’s house.  They are joined at some point in the second half of the film by Mia Wasikowska’s Ava, who is a much younger vampire and more akin to get herself into trouble (and have too much of Adam and Eve’s precious blood supply).  The film also features an appearance by John Hurt as the old vampire Christopher Marlowe, who was once an accomplished writer in his day.

While the plot of Only Lovers Left Alive seems quite slow at times, the film also often quite mesmerizing.  This is thanks to the film’s excellent guitar-based score, which was primarily performed by Jim Jarmusch’s own band SQÜRL, with additional composition by Jozef Van Wissem.  The music was undoubtedly one of my favourite aspects of Only Lovers Left Alive, with it being one of the better film scores I’ve heard in quite a while.

Overall, while I have never been that much of a fan of romanticized vampire films, I quite enjoyed the brooding and mesmerizing nature of Only Lovers Left Alive.  With the great chemistry between Tom Hiddleston and Tilda Swinton, as well as its excellent score, the film turned out to be a very interesting and unique take on this genre.

 9 | REALLY LIKED IT

Sean Kelly

About Sean Kelly -

Sean Patrick Kelly is a self-described über-geek, who has been an avid film lover for all his life. He graduated from York University in 2010 with an honours B.A. in Cinema and Media Studies and he likes to believe he knows what he’s talking about when he writes about film (despite occasionally going on pointless rants).