One more vampire movie, just one more. This is the last one you have to watch. You won’t regret it.
I can’t imagine many crossover fans between “Twilight” and “Only Lovers Left Alive,” a languorous exploration of a couple of impossibly hip vampires written and directed by Jim Jarmusch. Starring Tom Hiddleston and Tilda Swinton, who is miscast as anything human and sublime as a creature of the night, it moves at the pace appropriate for those who enjoy endless lifetimes, crawling from Tangiers to Detroit and back again.
Hiddleston and Swinton star as married vampire couple Adam and Eve, who live separately sometimes despite being passionately in love. When Adam considers suicide, Eve undertakes the nocturnal first class flights to Detroit to be with him.
Ensconced in a decaying home full of exquisite vintage guitars, musician Adam uses his endless time in appreciation of music, while Eve is more focused on literature. They sip blood acquired from hospitals and pharmacists, and only when they turn back their heads and bear their fangs after imbibing do they seem like vampires and not extremely cool, drug addicted artists.
This is a vampire film that does not focus much on blood, but rather on that other precious element, time, and considers how these two spend it. The fun of the film is just observing their tastes, developed over centuries and centuries. Impossibly learned, they are the ultimate hipster connoisseurs. Rather than simply knowing about a great band or writer before the rest of us, it is often revealed that these two or others of their refined ilk actually were the sources of our finest “human achievements.”
The greatest example of this is their close friend Kit, also known as Christopher Marlowe. Played to perfection by John Hurt, he opines that he wishes he had met Adam before he had written “Hamlet,” as he would have provided the ultimate inspiration.
They all name drop from the greatest artists across time. Adam complains about Byron but praises Mary Wollstonecraft, and, of course, carps that humans, or zombies as they call us, don’t appreciate the genius of Tesla. This is all fun and amusing but, if you think too hard about it, it’s also a bit Forrest Gump-ish, like a tour of history’s greatest hits.
Nevertheless, “Only Lovers Left Alive” is a gloomy delight, splendid and stylish and utterly fun to watch. It is, after all, a vampire flick, even if it is from one of our most beloved and quirky auteurs, and if one takes the time, like the film’s heroes do, to languidly appreciate its exceedingly rich delights, there are many to be had.
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