Only Lovers Left Alive
dir-scr Jim Jarmusch
prd Reinhard Brundig, Jeremy Thomas
with Tom Hiddleston, Tilda Swinton, Mia Wasikowska, John Hurt, Anton Yelchin, Jeffrey Wright, Slimane Dazi, Carter Logan, Wayne Brinston, Yasmine Hamdan, Aurelie Thepaut, Ali Amine
release UK 21.Feb.14, US 11.Apr.14
13/UK 2h03
Only Lovers Left Alive
Endless love: Hiddleston and Swinton

wasikowska hurt yelchin
london film fest
R E V I E W    B Y    R I C H    C L I N E
Only Lovers Left Alive Jarmusch adapts his usual laconic approach to the vampire genre with this wry black comedy about a very, very old couple. The film is so languorous that genre fans will probably lose patience with it (by contrast the Twilight movies look almost perky), but the quiet humour and strong characterisations make it well worth a look.

Centuries old, Adam (Hiddleston) is a musician living in Detroit squalor, assisted by the helpful Ian (Yelchin) to collect vintage instruments that he uses to record his songs. Meanwhile, his wife Eve (Swinton) is languishing in Tangiers, where her long-time pal Marlowe (Hurt) helps her find clean O-negative to sip at cocktail hour. Adam gets his from a local doctor (Wright). But Eve misses Adam, so she heads to Detroit for a visit. Then their blissful reunion is interrupted by the arrival of her wild-child sister Eva (Wasikowska).

Of course, all of this takes place at nighttime, which adds a shadowy pallor to the whole movie (and makes it tricky for Eve to book her flights). Jarmusch also infuses the film with music and literature, including sly comments on how these characters have influenced famous figures throughout history. But there's also a strong sense of weariness about their endless lives. Adam and Eve call humans zombies, and complain about how they have polluted the blood supply. So they consider staying up to greet the sun.

Hiddleston and Swinton draw out all kinds of engaging details in their characters, letting us see their inner exhaustion as well as a hint of childish curiosity still lingering in there somewhere. Their relationship feels like something that has lasted thousands of years: secure and subliminal, with nothing left to prove. And each of the actors around them adds spice to to his or her role.

So it's a shame the film feels so sleepy. There's plenty of zing gurgling in every scene, but Jarmusch only occasionally lets it surface. There are also a number of big ideas rumbling through the film, playfully evoking vampire mythology without ever indulging in it. So the real message here is that we need each other to make even an unusually long life worth living. And that artistic expression is at the core of what it means to be alive.

cert 15 themes, language, some grisliness 16.Jan.14

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