Only Lovers Left Alive (2014)

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Only Lovers Left Alive (2014)Starring Tilda Swinton, John Hurt, Tom Hiddelston, Mia Wasikowska

Directed by Jim Jarmusch

Jim Jarmusch is one of my favorite filmmakers, and vampires are one of my favorite movie genres, so when I heard about Only Lovers Left Alive – you’re damn right I was excited. Add to that some rock star guitar-porn, literary winks and nods to Byron and Shelley, put John Hurt in the cast… and I’m in!

Having seen the movie, I’m still in… but only with a toe in the water. I might dive in later on, but as of now my favorite Jim Jarmusch movie is still The Limits of Control.

Using his muse from TLoC, Jarmusch has cast Tilda Swinton as a romantic, androgynous, intellectual vampire named Eve. Naturally, Adam (Tom Hiddelston) is her husband. Adam is the original emo musician: morose, troubled, contemplative, laissez-faire and driven all at once. Together forever, at least in spirit, Only Lovers Left Alive chronicles their latest adventures when they reunite in a desolated Detroit, then fly off to magical Tangier to commune with their fanged guru, Marlowe (John Hurt). Before they can do that, though, they must contend with Eve’s bratty younger sister, Ava (Mia Wasikowska).

Like something immortal itself, Only Lovers Left Alive runs far too long to sustain its story. It’s over two hours, and while there are lots of characters and drama to sink one’s teeth into, Jarmusch only gives us glimpses and chooses instead to linger long on slowly-spinning vinyl records, mosquito net-draped four-poster beds, rotting fibers of carpet, and lots and lots of guitars.

Fortunately, I love lots and lots of guitars. I also enjoyed the dreamy, late night, aimless rides the stylish couple take in their dilapidated classic Jaguar XJS coupe along the antediluvian alleyways of the Motor City in search of hidden artistic treasures amongst the rubble. At one point, Adam takes Eve on a little tourist run, showing her Jack White’s childhood home and the Motown Museum along the way (“I’m more a Stax girl myself,” Eve demurs, declining to go inside). I loved the parallels drawn between rockers and opiates, vampires and sociopolitical poets, architecture and the soul.

There is lots to love about Only Lovers Left Alive.

It’s a thing of beauty in which to indulge the senses, but as a cohesive movie which tells a beginning-middle-end tale, it falls a tad short. Jarmusch never fails to show a good story – his visuals, regardless of DP, are practically unparalleled – it’s the telling part that trips him up.

I look forward to seeing Only Lovers Left Alive again at home, curled up in comfort with all the time in the world… I suggest you do the same and wait for Blu-ray or VOD.

3 1/2 out of 5

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Staci Layne Wilson

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