By Darin Skaggs
Jim Jarmoush’s new venture Only Lovers Left Alive is a film about people who appreciate art, make art and judge those who don’t appreciate the art the way they feel it should be appreciated. It is also a film about vampires. Jarmousch, the most subtle of filmmakers, has made a film about vampires that turns into a great look at fans, art lovers and how big headed they are when they look upon those who have no interest in their interests.
In Only Lovers Left Alive two vampires, who may or may not be married, Adam (Tom Hiddleston) and Eve (Tilda Swinton) are living in modern day, basically just hanging out. Adam lives in Detroit; he makes music but doesn’t release it. He has technology from the recent past all over his apartment. It is clear he is a pack rat and collects any valuable item he could get his hands on. Eve lives in Tangier spending her days soaking in all the art she can and spending time with her “famous” vampire friends.
The film does not have much plot, it does escalate during the third act, but it is one of the most intelligent of the year. These vampires are basically just there as art lovers that look down upon others, even though those people might not even care about what the vampires care about. This is a look at people who have an extreme passion for music, books, movies and art in general. It even might be a look at Jarmouch’s fans or his own attitude toward “normal” humans.
The brilliant hanging out scenes does come to a screeching halt when Eve’s sister Ava (Mia Wasikowska) comes in. She is a young rebellious vampire who doesn’t care about the rules of these vampires. And to use a dumb phrase, turns their world upside-down. They then crumble under the world they could never become a part of because they think they are better than them.
This film is full of amazing performances. Hiddleston is great as the depressed vampire. Wasikowska and John Hurt are doing great work as well. The MVP of the film is Tilda Swinton, who is having a great year anyway. Her character is surer of herself; she understands life more than everyone else, mostly because she knows nothing about it.
Only Lovers Left Alive is a fantastic movie. It is slow moving but everything that happens is so interesting and intellectual that those who stick around will be greatly rewarded. Jarmouch has made a vampire film in the height of the vampire phenomenon that has almost nothing to do with the genre of current. Instead he plays with it and twist in its own unique way.