Only Lovers Left Alive (2014) Directed by Jim Jarmusch. Starring: Tilda Swinton, Tom Hiddleston, Mia Wasikowska . IMDB says: “A depressed musician reunites with his lover, though their romance – which has already endured several centuries – is disrupted by the arrival of uncontrollable younger sister.”
Only Lovers Left Alive is disappointing. Plain and simple. I went into this assuming Jim Jarmusch was going to do something interesting with vampires, but I was wrong. All we got were pretentious vampires laying around, drinking blood, and talking about how much the world sucks. I wasn’t asking for much, I really wasn’t. But I knew we were headed for trouble when John Hurt had maybe 5 minutes of screen time and Jeffrey Wright was on screen for maybe a minute total. I’m not saying Tom Hiddleston and Tilda Swinton can’t carry a film, but if you’re gonna bring in Hurt and Wright, at least use them. Don’t get me excited for their performances only to take it away from me. But even if they had more screen time, there was no saving this movie. The characters were bland and the story was superbly boring. Even when something “exciting” happened, it didn’t matter. I didn’t care. At all. I feel like I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s back up.
Only Lovers Left Alive is the story of Adam (Hiddleston) and Eve (Swinton), two vampires that reunite, only to have the reunion spoiled by Eve’s wild sister Ava (Mia Wasikowska). It’s sad, because Mia is a talented actress and I feel that a whole range of emotions could have been explored with her character, but instead it was used as nothing more than a way to stimulate a “conflict”. A “conflict” that had no real repercussions so why bother? Anyway, Adam is a depressed and brooding rockstar who keeps to himself and rarely lets his music be heard. Adam employs Ian (Anton Yelchin) as his errand boy, using him to get guitars and wooden bullets. Yeah. Eve, his lover, decides to leave her home in Tangiers (of all places) and visit Adam in Detroit. Like many Jarmusch films, the setting becomes a character itself or a topic of conversation, and this film continues that tradition, but in an off-hand sort of way. This film changes its tone and message often throughout the film. It covers topics from the music industry, to science and religion, to the fact that Detroit is a dying city and nobody is doing anything about it. All through those heavy handed conversations, Eve and Adam are constantly shoving their immortality down our throats. It would be considered remotely clever if these tidbits were subtle, but when they got on their high horses about ghost writing for Bach or hanging out with Nikola Tesla, I was already tired of hearing it. So if Jarmusch was trying to get any message across, it gets lost in reminding the audience these characters are immortal.
The film does have some positives. For one, it looks fantastic. It’s a film about vampires, so naturally, the whole film takes place at night. Jarmusch does a fantastic job using the light, or lack thereof, in his shots and brings to life settings that could have been as dull as the film’s plot. The soundtrack did a great job establishing the ambiance and feeling in the air despite sounding a LOT like outtakes from an Atticus Finch and Trent Reznor recording session. I really wanted to like this film, but I couldn’t. I wouldn’t even bother renting this unless you’re a Jarmusch completist. And if that’s the case, good luck getting these 2 hours back.