Only Lovers Left Alive (2013)
Director: Jim Jarmusch
Cast: Tilda Swinton, Tom Hiddleston, Anton Yelchin, Mia Wasikowska, John Hurt
Jim Jarmusch is not the kind of filmmaker that will appeal to everyone because his films are deliberately slow paced, which if you’re in the right mood could be just what the doctor ordered. In my case, Only Lovers Left Alive was exactly the kind of movie I was looking for. You see, this film is populated with mellow characters in no rush to blow anything up or save the universe. Quite the contrary, these guys are basking in their mellowness, and I dug that. It’s a change of pace. Sometimes, modern films seem to be in some sort of rush, like a child who suffers from ADD, always in search for the next big rush. Yes my friends, there’s no denying that today’s audiences are junkies of the rush. But here’s Jim Jarmusch wanting to teach us once again that slowing things down can actually be a cool thing, let’s get retrospective, let’s think about things, let's analyze.
Only Lovers Left Alive is the story of Adam and Eve, two vampires who are extremely cultured and ancient, they know a lot about everything, their clothes are hundreds of years old. Eve has hundreds of ancient books and is an expert in literature and speed reads everything while Adam is an expert musician who wants to remain anonymous, hiding away from fame. These two vampires are married, but have been living so long that they don’t need to live together. Adam lives his rock and roll life style in Detroit Michigan while Eve lives in Tangiers, Morocco. Their lives are reunited when Adam reveals to Eve that he’s depressed with humanity. She detects his depression, so she flies to him, both reuniting in Detroit. Can these two vampires survive in our modern decaying society?
What I liked about this movie is how Jarmusch uses the vampires eternity to criticize humanity. You see these vampires have seen so many facets of humanity that they can comment, with an all encompassing point of view about where we are now as a race. They've seen us go through the inquisitions, through hitler, through everything, they've seen Galileo and Tesla suffer for their knowledge, they know just how much cruelty we are capable of, because they've seen it. In a way, so have we because we can read a history book, we can all look back at humanities mistakes and learn from them and evolve, but it seems we are inclined more towards repeating our mistakes then growing above them. I love how both vampires simply drive around Detroit during the night, they see all these abandoned buildings and factories and say “it’s like everybody left”. I gots to tell you my dear readers, I sometimes feel the same way about my own city. So many businesses closed down, so many abandoned buildings, you can see the urban decay taking over. The city is rotting away. It’s life, sucked away. So of course, I connected with these vampires, driving around a decaying city in ruins. Reminiscing about where it all went and if its ever gonna come back.
These vampires are pretty cool, they are so cultured, they remind me of how I wish I could spend eternity, reading books and listening to cool music, just chilling the hell out, when these guys drink their blood, it’s not unlike smoking a dooby or drinking your favorite poison. How cool are these vampires? Well, they hang out with William Shakespeare, who by the way is also a vampire! Ha, awesome. They eat blood popsicles and hang out in rock and roll bars. They wear glasses at night. The only thing is that the state of humanity brings them down. Adam can’t believe how humanity has managed to not only poison their water supply but their own blood as well. He wonders if humanity is still fighting about oil and when the water wars will begin. These guys philosophize about everything, I dug it. Swinton and Hiddleston have great chemistry together, they sold me the part of these two vampires in love throughout the ages. But overall, the cast is awesome, including John Hurt playing an aging vampire Shakespeare.
Jarmusch filmed on location in some awesome looking places, for example, he actually shot in Detroit, a city that is actually in decay. Huge buildings that use to be factories now look like ghosts, haunting a dying city, Jarmusch captured it all beautifully, made all the more dark and brooding because most of the film takes place late at night, when the vampires hang out. Morocco adds a completely different type of background, with beautiful vistas of a completely different type of society. They go to Morocco escaping the masses, escaping humanity whom they appropriately call “zombies”. Watching this film you kind of get the idea that humanity is in the brink of some huge cataclysmic change, like the world will soon turn, like that famous worm that turns when provoked enough. That idea that the world is somehow pushing us to return to an animalistic state of being, like the out of control world we live in is calling out our animal instincts, and pretty soon we won’t be able to hold back. Jarmusch’s Only Lovers Left Alive is thought provoking, romantic and sexy. In a lot of ways, Only Lovers Left Alive reminded me of this offbeat, obscure vampire film called Blood & Donuts (1995), because of this weird mood that it elicits, this weird aura that only comes from films that take place during the wee hours of the night, the small hours when the creatures of the night emerge. I recommend this film if you want to see something sultry, a film that slows things down to the pace of blood ebbing down a vampires throat.
Rating: 4 out of 5