I saw the languorous, delicious vampire movie, The Only Lovers Left Alive by Jim Jarmusch yesterday. The film is impeccably cast, making the most of Tilda Swinton’s ethereal presence as Eve, and Tom Hiddleston’s overpowering masculine beauty as Adam. Eve and Adam are husband and wife, deeply in love, yet living apart. Following some Anne Rice tropes, Eve (like Rice’s Lestat) enjoys every pleasure afforded by her vampiric powers, whereas Adam (like Rice’s Louis) is besieged by existential angst. These lovers know each other all too well and their exchanges are brief, composed of glances, touch, and a few words. While the expected vampire tropes abound, the movie still feels refreshing with its self-conscious dialogue, dark humor, and gorgeous cinematography, making the most of the intimacy of low lighting. I could contemplate Tom Hiddleson’s alabaster figure for days.
Perfect casting helps. Supporting cast members have small, pivotal roles that add energy to the proceedings: John Hurt as Kit Marlow (Eve’s friend), Mia Wasikowska as Ava (Eve’s sister), Anton Yelchin as Ian (Adam’s mortal assistant), and Jeffrey Wright as Doctor Watson (a procurer of the critical nectar).
The movie is a visual, atmospheric beauty–making the most of Tangier and Detroit’s specific nighttime ambiances. Like other Jarmusch oeuvres, there’s not much plot to speak of–most of the movie’s energy derives from wry, black humor and witty exchanges, and the inner lives of the vampires, as illustrated by their utterly specific home environments. The movie makes the most of the movie-goer’s voyeurism–I particularly enjoyed the piles of books littering the homes, and the multiple literary references sprinkled in the dialogue. These vampires are appropriately erudite, multilingual and conduct themselves with exquisite politeness. They are connoisseurs and collectors.
My favorite recurring joke in the movie is the term that the vampires use to discuss humans. This movie is perfect for those who want to soak in beauty, clutter, and bittersweet melancholy. This is probably my favorite Jarmusch movie of all time.