Film Review: Only Lovers Left Alive (2013)

on Friday, February 21, 2014
'Only Lovers Left Alive' (UK Release: 21 Feb '14) // Words: Saam Das

It's fair to say that the portrayal of vampires has been a tad overcooked in recent years on both the small and the big screens. Iterations such as the 'Twilight' series and 'The Vampire Diaries' fall far from those early black-and-white offerings, oft-inspired by Bram Stoker's 1897 novel 'Dracula'. Writer/director Jim Jarmusch's take on the sub-genre is witty, dark, and a refreshing change from the more recent fare.

Adam (Tom Hiddleston) is a centuries-old vampire, currently living in Detroit, as a reclusive musician. Adam largely eschews the modern world but has adapted, garnering his necessary blood supply from a local doctor (Jeffrey Wright) rather than savagely feeding on living humans. His main confidante is Ian (Anton Yelchin), a human who provides Adam with various musical items, as well as a single wooden bullet, which Adam wishes to use to end his life.

Adam also confides in one other individual, his long-term wife Eve (Tilda Swinton), but she is based in Morocco. Eve spends much of her time with elderly fellow vampire Christopher Marlowe (yes, the 16th century literary figure, played here by John Hurt) but senses something is wrong with Adam, and decides to visit him in Detroit. Their enjoyable reunion is soon derailed by the appearance of Eve's reckless sister (Mia Wasikowska).

To many, 'Only Lovers Left Alive' will be significantly slow-paced. But the slow-burn magnificently teases the new environment to which we are unaccustomed, particularly giving Hiddleston and Swinton's performances space and time to be absorbed. Much like the excellent Swedish vampiric offering 'Let The Right One In', this is less a film about vampires and more a reflective relationship tale. Well worth persevering with, especially considering the surprising preponderance of wry humour on offer.


'Only Lovers Left Alive' is out in UK cinemas today, through Soda Pictures. The film premiered in the UK at the 2013 BFI London Film Festival.

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