Don’t expect sparkly vampires, nor action-packed bloodthirsty romanticized killers in Only Lovers Left Alive, Jim Jarmusch’s most recent oeuvre. Instead, think languid, lush, and absolutely gorgeous–in the cinematic way, though Tilda Swinton and Tom Hiddleston certainly fit the bill in many other ways.
Set in a brooding, decaying Detroit and a vibrant Tangier, this is the story of two immortals: their passions, their glories, and emotions. Hiddleston’s Adam is a deeply emo vampire musician, locked up in a crumbling mansion surrounded by all the music. He’s a rock-and-roll icon, known for being a hermit, yet incredibly popular. Adam has his modern-day Renfield, a groupie by the name of Ian who procures whatever Adam needs – mostly obscure musical instruments.
Swinton’s Eve lives on the other side of the world, immersed in literature, embracing the color and richness of her chosen city. Her best pal (and procurer of the good blood) is none other than Christopher Marlowe (played to perfection by John Hurt.) Though separated from her husband of many lifetimes, it takes only a phone call from Adam for Eve to wing her way via night flights to Detroit.
This is a quiet mood piece, pretty much the absolute antithesis of the other recent movie I saw (Captain America: The Winter Soldier), but it’s pace is utterly perfect. As I said to a colleague, it’s poetry, not prose, and on its face, a simple poem, but it’s very simplicity showcases the complex issues of immortality, of the decay of modern cities, of trust and love and hope.
There’s no mystery to solve, no soul-clenching drama, just beauty, introspection and the glory of life – no matter how long life is. There is a very amusing bit when Eve’s younger “sister” Ava shows up, the vampire version of the annoying little sibling. Ava throws a few wrenches into Adam and Eve’s life and the resolution to this is all part of the overarching glory of survival.
Only Lovers Left Alive opens in very limited release in the US on April 11, 2014. Catch it if you can – it will probably only be out in art-house theatres, but it’s well worth the watch. If you miss it on screen, make sure to get the DVD or digital download when that’s available. Already I’m looking forward to a second viewing.