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Yes, Only Lovers Left Alive is another vampire movie. Yes, the
characters are very pale and old and romantic. Yes, it is very much
full of clichés and stereotypes. However, it is also wickedly smart,
beautifully shot, filled to the brim with talent and full of cultural
Tom Hiddleston is Adam, Tilda Swinton is Eve and Jim Jarmusch is a genius. This is a director that tells us all we need to know without doubting our intelligence. He allows us to fall into the depths of the film without worrying about a perfectly neat beginning, middle and end. He even stops his characters from following tedious and predictable patterns, because after all, they're too old for that.
This is a movie for film lovers and pop culture enthusiasts. It is a vampire film that takes advantage of its time span; cultural references dating back hundreds of years can be found at every corner. Only Lovers Left Alive does not focus on blood and gore, it is not a thriller nor a horror, it doesn't even truly focus on the world of vampires. Instead, Jarmusch studies the eternal, he explores the quiet, perhaps boring, every day life of a modern, intelligent and ancient being who has, quite literally, seen it all.
- Sinann Fetherston.
You can find a full review at MoviefiedNYC.
Wonderful imagery. style and atmosphere in the extreme. great acting.
Beauty in many forms: you get a lot for your eyes. Also, depending on
your taste in music, there is also a lot for your ears.
For your brain, sadly, not as much.
"Only lovers left alive" is filled with a lot of name-dropping, by word, picture and sometimes sound. Whether you find that fascinating or pretentious depends on your taste.
But what this movie really lacks is a story. The characters are throughout and the dialogue may be scarce, but has some dry humour and snappy lines. That doesn't save it from going nowhere. Glaring plot holes may make you cringe at times. And the pacing looks like Jarmush tried to surpass Kaurismäki in terms of slowness. If so, he won.
So perhaps this movie is best tasted in the state its protagonists enter after relishing an excellent glass of blood: dazed, blissful, and somewhat drugged.
One knows that a Jim Jarmusch movie about vampires is not going to be like any other vampire film. In fact it would be unkind to class this as a vampire movie. Only Lovers Left Alive is a highly stylized and atmospheric film bemoaning the passing of the great rock n roll and Hippy era. Here we have a vampire couple (Swinton & Hiddleston - both excellent and perfectly cast) living an isolated life in an abandoned house in Detroit, USA. Hiddleston used to be a famous rock n roll artist who has become a recluse collecting old guitars and records. They survive by purchasing blood samples from a corrupt doctor. We also have one of their old vampire friends (John Hurt) living in Tangiers where the blood is specially pure. Things take an unexpected turn when Swinton's mischievous sister (Mia Wasikowska) visits them. Only Lovers Left Alive has cult film written all over it. The music is great too and blends perfectly with the atmosphere. Essential for Jarmusch fans and recommended to others too!
This is Jim at his utter best. The balance between emotive writing and gentle quiet spaces within the script are total perfection. The characters are well rounded and very easy to empathize with, which is surprising for a couple of centuries old vampires. There is none of the usual gaudy over the top vampiric crap that usually fills these types of movies. It's a love story at heart and one that does a fantastic job of balancing itself so that the intimacy shown on screen is divine taste of these interesting characters lives without falling over the top into some strangely perverse romcom. There is humor and and satire in abundance, though it is never cheapened or thrown into the mix to fill a gap. No this film in entirety is sweet and humbling. The sets are rich and perfectly put together, the performances are flawless from each and every member of the cast no matter how long their involvement. This movie is the type that causes you to want to crawl into it's story and settle down to live within it.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Just when you thought Twilight had lowered the already-exhausted
vampire trope to the level of gum-cracking, teenage faux-ennui, along
comes the insufferable Jim Jarmusch to kick it while it's down. In the
process he creates this meaningless mess of self-absorbed Romantic
pretension and contemporary decay-porn.
Adam and Eve(really?)mope through the movie recalling, Forrest Gump-like, all the famous people they have met throughout history, name-dropping like two desperate party-crashers at a Billysburg hipster event. Their irrelevant sidekick, Christopher Marlowe, turns out to be the REAL Shakespeare, so John Hurt (who has become the white Samuel L.Jackson lately, popping up everywhere) gets to spend the film alternating between false humility and 400 year old bitterness. This silliness reaches its apex when Marlowe squats to lay the hammy observation that if only he had met Adam BEFORE he wrote Hamlet.....
This is the dialogue of a first-year Arts student with a crush on his prof, trying to be iconoclastic and deep in case she likes him back.
Adam and Eve are omnipresent and omniscient, on one hand spewing the most obscure scientific theories, having musical debates and history lessons (of course they both prefer old-school sound and instruments), yet somehow juvenile and myopic enough to label mortals "zombies", as if being alive for millennia has taught them nothing except how to act and speak like navel-gazing teenagers who are simultaneously above it all, yet offended by everything.
Adam apparently sprung fully-formed from the head of Anne Rice's Lestat; a prodigious musician, beautiful, a walking romantic tragedy. Unlike Lestat's crotch-grabbing alpha-male God of Rock, however, Adam is pure Emo -- whiny, self-absorbed, condescending, and unintentionally funny in his shallow earnestness. Like all people of such ilk, the further he tries to distance himself from the great unwashed the more he becomes all too human. When you prick him he bleeds, when you tickle him he laughs, when you poison him, he dies, which turns out to be literal here as he and Eve are constantly on the hunt for clean blood. The zombies after all, are so stupid they have ruined their very blood with disease.
His dependency on the zombies, both as the Other from whom he must rebel, as well as source of his nourishment, recalls every arrogant and ostentatious university student that has ever lived. His entire identity is invested in the society against which he must fight. There is nothing internal to fall back on, no sense of self. Like all whining hipsters, he is merely a vessel through which ephemera pass, slowly enough to deposit something trite and cool to brandish like a weapon against the herd, but too quickly to leave any lasting knowledge.
Eve is basically Adam's babysitter, the uber-cool chick from the local record-store that every fanboy is crushing on deep, yet as usual ends up dating the tragic poser douchebag from the garage band next door. She arranges flights and evaluates his guitar collection by touch, but really does little else but walk around in a pseudo-Bowie attempt at sangfroid, which recalls another vampire story this film leans on heavily, The Hunger.
In no way, however, are Adam and Eve reminiscent of Bowie's John or Deneuve's Miriam outside of silly hipster posturing. Perhaps this can best be seen in the film's setting. Whereas John and Miriam lived a life of elegance and class in New York City, all Yves Saint-Laurent and Chanel, Adam and Eve slum in Detroit, the disaster-porn capital for hipsters with vintage Leicas.
Like clueless teenagers they sulk around decaying grandeur and the death of the all-American (zombie) dream, wallowing in the misery and loss, which is seen by them as the result of impersonal concepts like Greed and Contentment, not as personal tragedies for individual humans. Again, like all people of this ilk, they would no doubt claim to be a champion for the average man, while at the same time dehumanizing that average man, a feat made easy by their hothouse existence of fleeting hedonism and empty joy masquerading as the examined life. One can't help but recall Charles Péguy's brilliant observation: "It will never be known what acts of cowardice have been motivated by the fear of not looking sufficiently progressive."
Like most inexperienced teenage posers, vacuous hipster airheads and self-absorbed romantic-types,the cowardice of Adam and Eve is displayed in every gesture and word. Their hothouse existence, where they are sheltered safely from the herd they despise and the reality they claim to be able to decipher at a level the zombies cannot even fathom, has made them delusional; they spend the film tilting at cerebral windmills they conceptualize as profound observation; worst of all they state, with all the hubris of eternal immaturity, that only they suffer at a level which the materialistic suburban zombies cannot understand, and would not tolerate.
A reprehensible and fatuous film.
Adam and Eve, you two are so grounded.
Only Lovers Left Alive is one of the most breath-taking films I have
ever seen. As a fan of the more artistically styled film I was
captivated throughout. The entire film is quiet and dark with an eerie
feeling of timelessness that matches the souls as old as time itself,
Adam (Tom Hiddleston) and Eve (Tilda Swinton). The film centres around
their eternal love, highlighting the modern world through the light,
easy-going spirit of Eve and the tortured romantic Adam. Despite being
set in the modern day it is completely unlike vampire films of recent
times, presenting a visually beautiful story of true romance.
Artistic is the epicentre of this film. It is entirely set at night so it has a sleepy, soft half-light, in the empty, mysterious streets of Detroit and Tangier. The script has a minimal feel, giving the impression that every word is important, and there are some great moments of dark comedy scattered throughout, mixed with cultural and literary references and philosophical observations. Everything about it is slow and measured and perfected, even down to the synchronised movements of Adam and Eve. The acting is stunning, with a particularly beautiful performance from Tom Hiddleston, who carries the role of the suicidal vampire who has grown tired of the disrepairs of the world with a darkly sexy air. Tilda Swinton provided a light to Hiddleston's dark, offering a rescue at the darkest of moments. There was yet more contrast with Eve's wild and unpredictable younger sister (Mia Wasikowska) and the wise, worldly Marlowe (John Hurt). The clash of characters adds to the charm of the story and the style.
The film is slow-paced but contrary to other opinions I didn't feel that it dragged on in any way. It presents a lot of truths about current society which really made me think. Naturally, it remains true to some vampire film stereotypes: dark, sexy and romantic. If you're a Tom Hiddleston fan in particular I recommend this, his portrayal of such a flawed character is simply stunning. However even if you're impartial, I would highly recommend this film, everything about it is breath-taking and gorgeous. It achieves artistic without clouding the message of the film and draws you in to its perfect eternity and escapism.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I specifically registered with IMDb to write this review, as I don't
want anyone else to have to sit through this film. I have absolutely no
idea why it's being reviewed so favourably. It is truly, truly awful
and I spent the majority it watching through my hands, because I just
couldn't stand the overbearing mediocrity of the whole thing. There is
absolutely nothing original about it, and as others have said, the
dialogue is teeth-clenchingly risible.
I was nervous from the very first conversation, when the Hiddleston's character loftily name- drops a historical figure he knew (because he's like, you know, really old? Get it?). His pal says 'what happened to him?' Hiddleston replies 'Ahh, he was casually shot by a parliamentarian', to which the response is 'Whoah man, that sucks.'. Alarm bells were a-ringing.
If you were to ask the least-gifted film-maker on earth what he would do to try and liven up the dialogue of a two world-weary, wise old vampires, he would probably confidently reply 'They could talk about all the awesome people they've known throughout history! It would be amazing!'. And so we have it that time and again, a passage of dialogue exists only to demonstrate that one of them knew a celebrity from the last 400 years.
For example, the Adam and Eve (sigh) are playing chess when Eve pipes up 'Did you play chess with Byron?' Adam says 'Ah, why do you always do this?', Eve says 'Oh come on, you know I love to hear about these kind of things' Adam replies 'He was a pompous ass.'. Eve guffaws. It's not over yet though. There's more blood to be beaten out of this stone. She continues with 'And what about Mary? Mary Wollstonecraft?' Adam replies with 'She was delicious.' REALLY? Are we actually doing this? Is this what I paid to see? It was like a scene from mid-90s TV movie Bernard and The Genie starring Lenny Henry and Alan Cumming, only that had the good sense not to take itself seriously.
Then there is the relentless, exposition about every little thing, as if Jarmusch was so insanely chuffed with each derivative idea he came across that he wanted to make doubly sure you got it. So something's chucked out there (invariably a gag about having been alive for centuries), you roll your eyes, then it's explained why it was said.
As a final hurrah from the Bernard and the Genie gag (and this is the spoiler), as their friend Christopher Marlowe (John Hurt) lies on his death bed, they look at his writing desk. Above it is a picture of Shakespeare. There is then (yet another) exposition conversation which reveals that Marlowe wrote all of Shakespeare's works. Of course he did. He says something along the lines of 'Talentless old hack. But we needed him to take all the credit because I was supposed to be dead.'. If that was the case, why would you have a picture of him above your desk? Is it just so that it could spark off that pointless little conversation for the benefit of the audience?
At one point Eve is on the phone to the airline, booking her ticket to Detroit. It was like a conversation from 60s batman 'What's that commissioner, there's a bomb under the central bank? And we've only got 7 minutes before it goes off?' Eve's conversation went as follows: 'So I'm flying tomorrow night to Paris? Then I'm flying from Paris to Detroit?' The point of this purely being so that a) you get the point (which is repeated later in the film for the return flight) that they can only fly at night (because they're vampires, yeah?) and b) when you see her on a french airline in the next scene, you don't think 'why's she on a French airline?'.
Another example: She finds a wooden bullet that Adam has had made. We know he had it made because there was a whole scene dedicated to him putting in the request for it. She looks closely at the bullet. In reality the emotional impact to her would come from the fact that he has a gun in his flat with a wooden bullet in it. But she is then made to say (bearing in mind she's on her own, and people don't come out with explanatory statements when they're on their own in real life) 'This has been recently made!'. We know it has! And we assume that you know it has because in the previous scene it was demonstrated that you can date things just by touching them! But just to eliminate any doubt, she talks you through it.
The whole film feels like it was edited by Jarmusch's mum, who watched it and, after wiping away a proud tear, said 'I'm not going to change a thing my darling, it's wonderful just as it is.'. Although this does suggest that good editing would have saved this. it wouldn't. It's unwatchable down to its bones.
Jim Jarmusch's delicious new comedy is a vampire movie unlike any other. It's set in the present but forget those "Twilight" sagas; these are vampires for the art-house crowd, smart, funny and yes, sexy creatures of the night, (the whole film takes place at night; there isn't a single shot in daylight), and I was crazy about them. Indeed Jarmusch has fashioned a masterpiece about a couple of lonely people whose only solace is each other, doomed if you like to be together for all eternity or until one of them gets a stake or a wooden bullet in the heart or drinks some 'bad blood'; (I loved the subtle AIDS metaphor; be careful who you bite). Adam, (tall, dark and sexy Tom Hiddleston), and Eve, (a mesmerizing Tilda Swinton), have been married to each other, several times it would appear, over the centuries but living separate lives, he in Detroit as a reclusive musician, she in Tangier where she has another old vampire for a friend. He is Christopher Marlowe, (yes that Christopher Marlowe), and he's played by John Hurt with a twinkle in his eye. It's when Eve visits Adam in Detroit, flying by night, (in a plane; what did you expect - bat-wings?), that all hell breaks loose in the shapely form of Eve's sexy sister, (a terrific Mia Wasikowska), who can't keep her fangs to herself. As you would expect from Jarmusch this is funny, intelligent and off-the-wall. Hiddleston proves to be a highly dapper comedian while Swinton is superb as Eve, getting all she can out of a life she knows is going to go on forever. Unmissable.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Right, where to begin? I was recently driven away from watching the
final 40 minutes of this film at The Showroom in Sheffield by a
complete lack of any story/plot and some of worst dialogue I have heard
in a very long time. As another (unfavourable) reviewer commented
previously, the dialogue is that of a 1st year Arts student trying to
sound cool and interesting in front of their teacher who they are
obsessed with- when in reality it sounds like a car-crash in the form
of words. Just to provide some context, this is only the 2nd film I
have ever left the cinema before the end for- the 1st being Gus Van
Sant's 'Paranoid Park', another totally uninspiring, pointless film.
And I don't want to give the wrong impression, I actually LIKE slow
films when done well *See 'Once Upon A Time In Anatolia' by Nuri Bilge
Ceylan or 'Stalker' by Andre Torkovsky- masters of that particular art
form, they make this film look like it has been made by Usain Bolt in
comparison. But where Ceylan and Tarkovsky succeed in intriguing the
viewer with meaning and engaging characters, this is pretentious drivel
of the highest order.
There are not enough words in my vocabulary to express my absolute fury & disgust at what I was made to endure, and when I said "made", that is purely my own insistence on seeing things to the end, in case the film comes up trumps. In this case, I doubt that anything so fantastical could have happened in those last 40 minutes to make me change my mind about this film.
The only positives you can take from this are that the music is good and the scenes of Detroit and Tangier are pleasing on the eye. The acting is OK but they are made to spout the most pointless claptrap that you start to question just how good these actors are, which is definitely not fair on them. After deliberating on whether to leave the cinema before we did for a whole 20 minutes, the final straw for me came when Eve said Adam, "have you got a bit of old carpet?". I would rather have spent my afternoon disposing of my old carpet down the skip.
ONLY LOVERS LEFT ALIVE pulls no punches with its audience; it expects us to take note of the literary references peppering the script, to figures old and new, making us away of the transhistoricity of the love-affair between Adam (Tom Hiddleston) and Eve (Tilda Swinton). In a world becoming increasingly disheveled and uninhabitable - the shots of a desolate Detroit are especially affecting - their love remains the only constant. However director Jim Jarmusch suggests that they need an outside transfusion of perfect blood to keep their affair going, something that can only be provided through a few sources, notably through Christopher Marlowe (John Hurt), who lives in a dark, dingy café in Tangier (another place deliberately chosen by director Jarmusch as the symbol of a place where trade and/or exchange has historically always occurred). When the blood runs out, so Adam and Eve have to resort to more direct methods of sustaining themselves. The ambiances evoked through this film are memorable; the zombie culture populated by Adam and Ava (Mia Wasikowska), the labyrinthine streets of Tangier, where sellers on every corner offer "something special" - which is not special enough for Adam and Eve. Within this ambiance the love-story is strangely haunting: we care for the two protagonists and their future, even though we are aware that their affair has continues for centuries. The film doesn't necessarily offer an optimistic conclusion, but at least it suggests that Adam and Eve will continue stay alive, at whatever cost.
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