From the very beginning of Jim Jarmusch’s masterpiece, Only Lovers Left Alive, you are drawn into this bleak world and it is impossible for one not to be captivated by the intense brilliance that Jarmusch brings to this story, and you instantly realize you are watching something very special.
Vampires have become such a part of pop culture in the last few years, which is thanks to the efforts of the incredibly divisive Twilight series and dozens of other similar stories. Vampires are seen as romantic figures – you’re immortal and thus never have to leave your lover. However, the ridiculousness of vampire obsession have turned the creatures from these elegant, mysterious figures to laughably bad clichés. However, if Jarmusch has proved anything, it is that the vampire genre is far from being overdone, and that there is absolutely no lack of new, fresh ideas involving the most popular mythological monsters.
Only Lovers Left Alive is probably one of the best vampire films, and one doesn’t need to look too deeply to discover why this is. The first key to success is that Jarmusch does not resort to any tropes or clichés. Not once is the word “vampire” uttered, yet it is very clear that the main characters Adam (Tom Hiddleston) and Eve (Tilda Swinton) are vampires. However, what Jarmusch does well here is instead of portraying them as stereotypical vampires, who are elegant and witty and live in gothic mansions, wearing cloaks and sleeping in coffins, Eve and Adam are pretty much portrayed as if they are heroin junkies. Adam lives in a decrepit, run-down Detroit home, with dust gathering on every piece of furniture and trash littering the floor. Eve is a bohemian spirit, living in Morocco in a very unpretentious, unglamorous life. Jarmusch also tears away the idea that vampires constantly need to be drowning in luxury and excess. It is never stated, but in the script, it is implied that Eve is over 2000 years old, and Adam is nearing 600. They’ve been around for a long time, and most likely have grown bored of extravagant lifestyles and excessive material possessions. They just want to live their eternal days in quiet seclusion, enjoying the company of a select few.
Tom Hiddleston is an extraordinarily talented actor, and his performance as fan-favorite villain Loki in the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s films has given him the opportunity to pursue films like Only Lovers Left Alive and show off his incredible talents, and there is no one better to share the screen with than the incredible Tilda Swinton. I adore Swinton for her ethical choices in performances, and the fact that she can morph into any character just proves how she is one of the most talented actresses working today. Her performance as Eve is everything we love about Tilda – elegant, wry and mysterious. She plays a woman who has been trotting the world for almost as long as society has been around, and thus has begun to appreciate the little things in life. Her pure optimism paired with Hiddleston’s deadpan humor and bleak philosophical outlook on life make them the most captivating couple in recent film history.
Only Lovers Left Alive is truly an effortlessly brilliant film. It is sleek, cool and very paced. Jarmusch never stresses to over-explain himself, and he allows audiences to create their own fantasies about who these characters were before, and who they will become in the events that follow.
This is a beautiful, poignant film about life and love. It is a beautifully romantic story of two individuals and their undying (literally) love for each other. It proves how Jarmusch is the king of minimalism and one of the best directors working today, and we can only hope he continues to craft such brilliant, riveting cinema.