Only Lovers Left Alive (2014): A Tale of Fragile Vampires

Posted: May 5, 2014 in Drama, Horror, Romance
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only_lovers_left_alive_ver7_xlgAlone and reclusive, ancient musician and vampire Adam relies on one zombie to maintain his connection with the outside world. With the blood of the human population being tainted, he has to pick up his supply from a doctor through significant payoffs. His love, Eve, calls Adam and decides to travel from Tangier to Detroit, sensing that there is something wrong with him. Upon her arrival, they immediately improve both of their lives with a chance to reminisce and connect over his music. Their bliss is threatened when Ava, a girl Eve turned years ago, finds their Detroit home and crashes their party. Immediately demanding access to his blood supply, she disrupts Adam’s improvement and threatens his anonymity. Unable to tame her wild side, Ava convinces Adam and Eve to go out to a local club to listen to music and takes influence over Adam’s supplier in the process.

Starring: Tilda Swinton (Eve), Tom Hiddleston (Adam), Anton Yelchin (Ian), Mia Wasikowska (Ava), John Hurt (Marlowe), Jeffrey Wright (Dr. Watson), Slimane Dazi (Bilal), Carter Logan (Scott), Aurelie Thepaut (Flight Attendant), Ali Amine (Taxi Driver)

The cast was definitely an all-star group but the overall tone of the film was extremely melancholy. Hiddleston promoted his lines in almost a soliloquy-style format, rambling off musical themes and appreciation for the macabre. Showing a little more life but many of the same themes, Swinton projected a tamed wildness through her role. Having the most comedic influence through his restrained and even-tempered performance, Jeffrey Wright was perfect for his role. Wasikowska definitely played the wild child, with a combination of innocence and deviousness.

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Jim Jarmusch produced a snapshot into the lives of two vampire lovers who are struggling to make it by in a harsh new world. Having disposed of the old ways of siring and drinking directly from humans, Adam and Eve had to go through safe supply lines to maintain clean nourishment. The good blood had almost a brief high after consumption. While living alone felt like simply existing to both of them, they decided that they need to be together again. Eve’s arrival in Detroit brought Adam out of his funk and significantly changed his desire to shoot himself in the heart with a wooden bullet. He started to feel a little more inspired to produce new music as well. All of this would have been great except for Ava’s arrival and disruption to their happiness. Cutting Adam’s supply line off by drinking from Ian, they are forced to kick her out and return to Tangier to restart together.

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The experience of this film is a tale of two elements: the melancholy and the surreal. Vampire films have invariably been chained to brooding and macabre. This film takes that a bit to the extreme with dark environments and emotionally draining conversations. The majority of the film feels like a combination of musical interludes and long-winded conversations of either music, maintaining a quiet existence, or how to live in a dying society. There were a few elements that broke the mold a bit, particularly the scenes with Dr. Watson and the references to humans as living zombies. The surreal elements hovered between the existence of vampires and their interactions with humans. Adam admitted to the production of a lot of music over the years but trying to keep it out of the spotlight. When one of his songs reached a sense of popularity, his home started to attract humans believing to have found the source of the music. There were also only a few scenes that truly confirmed Adam, Eve, Ava, and Marlowe as vampires.

This film could have had much more potential if it did not take itself so seriously. It felt like the storytelling was stuck in neutral until Ava showed up and ended with something significantly less than a bang. The actors were phenomenal but the concept fell a bit short.

Dan’s Rating: 2.5/5

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