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Only Lovers Left Alive: The Vampires of Detroit

January 21, 2015

Only Lovers Left Alive movie poster

Jim Jarmusch sure is cool. Only Lovers left Alive is a laid back treasure that takes its time and builds super cool characters. The story of two vampires exploring the Detroit landscape is wonderful, literate and always entertaining.

Tom Hiddleston plays a melancholy vampire named Adam who is increasingly annoyed by the zombies (humans) and spends his days in isolation. He is a popular underground musician whose music is known world wide. He has one human friend named Ian (Anton Yelchin) who is the only “rock and roll kid” he likes. Ian runs his errands, buys all his musical equipment and is given a final task. Adam wants him to find somebody who can make a solid wooden bullet.

Sensing that her husband is in a funk Eve (Tilda Swinton) makes plans to visit.  When we first meet her she is chatting about olden days with Christopher Marlowe (which finally put my lit degree to use!). I love how Marlowe (John Hurt)  wishes he would have met Adam before he wrote Hamlet. I also love when Eve explains why Adam might be sullen:

“I mainly blame Shelley and Byron and some of those French assholes he used to hang around with.”

Eve leaves Tangier and heads to Detroit in order to cheer up her morose lover and partake in conversations about Shakespeare, quantum theory and Jack White. Eventually, her kid sister shows up and much to Adam’s annoyance drinks his friends, blares his music and forces them to music clubs.

Swinton and Hiddleston are wonderfully cool and they immediately build a lived in chemistry. The two love each other deeply yet have different personalities. Basically, she married a tortured musician and has to deal with him for hundreds of years.

only lovers left alive tim hiddleston

After Snowpiercer, We Need to Talk About Kevin, The Grand Budapest Hotel and Moonrise Kingdom Tilda Swinton is proving herself to be the best actress around. She is a chameleon who disappears into her roles and I still can’t believe she was Mason from Snowpiercer. She worked with Jarmusch before in Broken Flowers and her performance gives in to his style of cool detachment. Tom Hiddleston is perfect as the sulky vampire who is simply getting older. The new generation bores him and he misses the days of playing chess with the world’s best writers. Hiddleston carries effortless cool on his shoulders and he makes the role look easy.

Only Lovers Left Alive is a cool experiment that will live on as one of the best vampires films ever made. It flips the genre on its head and I love how it shows the evolution of the creatures. They may be getting wiser and more mature but they still are vampires who need blood. There is a danger to them even as they lay around listening to pretentious music.

Watch Only Lovers left Alive. Then, check out Jarmusch’s Coffee and Cigarettes. I guarantee it is the only movie where Bill Murray drinking out of a coffee pot chats with RZA and  GZA.


7 Comments leave one →
  1. January 21, 2015 12:39 pm

    Great review! I loved the style of this movie; it will definitely be on my top 10!

  2. January 21, 2015 12:48 pm

    Good review. Not a huge fan of Jarmusch, but he won me over here. Not because he gave me a solid story about vampires, but actually made them somewhat likable and sympathetic.

  3. David permalink
    March 11, 2015 9:04 am

    Serves mainly to explain the dangers of a semi-immortality when the “soul” becomes weary or tired of learning and enjoying the ride. A theme also dealt with sparingly in the Lord of the Rings as the immortalish elves sail away to the west as the world changes in the final scenes. I viewed this less as a vampire movie then as a warning to those seeking to live long lives through healthy living or enhanced immortality using new sciences…..if you do not have a reason or purpose to wake up each day….adding more time to the meter is really not worth the effort. And in this film Eve has learned to love the act of survival and is shown constantly speed reading and engaging in life. Adam is in a downward spiral towards oblivion despite his obvious talents and past creativity.
    And in the end as their perfect manicured worlds dissolve they return to what they are….vampires living off the blood of the living and not raiding the antiseptic blood banks of AAA rated hospitals.


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