Blogs » FLIX! » Review: Only Lovers Left Alive (2014) the coolest vampire film since The Hunger



ONLY LOVER'S LEFT ALIVE (2014) Tom Hiddleston, Tilda Swinton, Mia Wasikowska, John Hurt, Anton Yelchin, Jeffrey Wright. Directed by Jim Jarmusch

Indie auteurist Jim Jarmusch returns after a 3 year hiatus with the coolest vampire flick to come along since David Bowie and Catherine Deneuve were hanging with Bauhaus in "The Hunger" (1983). Tom Hiddleston and Tilda Swinton are perfectly cast as centuries-old vampires and lovers, Adam and Eve. He lives in an old two story Victorian located in a desolate part of Detroit and she lives halfway around the world in Tangier in the midst of the Old Medina with it's narrow alleyways, small shops, and dwellings almost stacked on top of each other.

Resembling a burnt out rock star, Adam spends most of his time secluded in his home composing and recording instrumental tracks, a few of which have been leaked onto the internet giving him a loyal following. His passion for all things vintage is evident by the reel-to-reel tape recorder, 45rpm records, and collection of rare guitars which are acquired by his human friend/groupie Ian (Anton Yelchin). When Adam requests Ian find him a wooden bullet with a brass shell casing, Eve senses something's wrong and takes a couple of night flights to get to Detroit to cheer up her immortal companion who only leaves the house to make late night calls to the local hospital where his connection, Dr. Watson (Jeffrey Wright), hooks him up with canisters of blood, The scenes at the hospital are funny with Adam disguised as a doctor using various aliases like Dr. Faust, Dr. Strangelove, and Dr. Caligari. In Morocco it's a little easier for Eve to get a hold of human blood thanks to her good friend Christopher Marlowe, the famous Elizabethan poet and playwright (who knew he was a vampire?) played by the legendary John Hurt.

Adam and Eve spend their time enjoying each others company and taking late night drives in Adam's classic Jaguar while seeing the sights including the childhood home of rocker Jack White. Everything is going well until Eve's younger sister Ava (Mia Wasikowska), just in from L.A., shows up ready to party and hit the club scene. She injects some adrenalin to the movie and when Ian comes over the four venture out to a club to hear the New York band White Hills. It's one of the two really good live performances in the movie, the other by Yasmine Hamdan, a Lebanese singer based out of Paris. As with all films by Jim Jarmusch, music plays a vital role, it's more like a mixtape than a soundtrack, and included in this film are quite a few moody instrumentals composed and performed by the director. The atmospheric and twangy guitar chords that permeate throughout the film are well suited to the nocturnal landscape that serves as the film's backdrop.

There are only a couple of times where the fangs come out and the only blood we see is usually being poured into glassware, also a couple of vampire clich├ęs manage to pop up but in the end Jarmusch freshens up the genre with an ethereal, cultured, and totally enjoyable vampire film about timeless lovers existing in a modern world.

(4 stars)

*Now showing at the River Oaks (Houston) and Violet Crown Cinema (Austin)