Movie review: Only Lovers Left Alive

By Russell Baillie

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Tom Hiddleston and Tilda Swinton sizzle as immortal couple Adam and Eve in Only Lovers Left Alive.
Tom Hiddleston and Tilda Swinton sizzle as immortal couple Adam and Eve in Only Lovers Left Alive.

Vampire films are meant to be haunting. But this one from American indie master Jim Jarmusch offers a different kind of spooking.

It's not the minimal bloodletting that will stick with you afterwards, should you surrender to its glacial pace and deadpan delivery as is always required with the unhurried films of Jarmusch.

No, what resonates is the movie's love story, one which is essentially about a very old, very married couple.

There's something sweetly affecting in this portrait of a seemingly immortal marriage, even if we first encounter mister and missus living far apart.

Eve (Swinton) is in Tangiers keeping herself entertained with her book collection and regular chats with writer - and fellow vampire - Christopher Marlowe (John Hurt), who may not have achieved the literary immortality of his old rival Shakespeare but isn't too bitter about it, all things considered.

Meanwhile, Adam (Hiddleston) is holed up in deepest darkest Detroit working on yet another underground music project in between adding to his vintage guitar collection - he's got a loyal human (Anton Yelich) who finds them and helps keep the real world at bay. Except, that is, when he pops down to the local clinic for a bootleg supply of O Negative from Dr Watson (Jeffrey Wright).

Detecting she's needed, Eve travels to Detroit to find a glum Adam increasingly despondent about a world run by "zombies" as he labels humankind.

Arriving on the doorstep soon after is Eve's troublesome little sister (Mia Wasikowska), who is there to introduce some jeopardy into a film that isn't exactly overburdened by narrative momentum. But Jarmusch certainly makes up for it with a film big on elegant languor, nocturnal atmosphere, analogue rock 'n' roll cool and the palpable romantic ache of its leading couple.

Together, an equally captivating Swinton and Hiddleston manage a cold-fusion chemistry between their characters. They may have spent a millennium together but they are far sexier fanged folk than any who graced the screen in the Twilight era.

Yes, she might look deathly pale. He might play droning art-rock (actually the squalling noise of Jarmusch's own band Squrl).

Together, though, these vamps sure have got soul.


Cast: Tilda Swinton, Tom Hiddleston
Director: Jim Jarmusch
Rating: M (offensive language)
Running time: 123 mins

Verdict: Hypnotically hip vampire film makes the undead briefly cool once more.

- TImeOut

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