Thursday, 20 March 2014

Only Lovers Left Alive (2013)

Vampire movies take on a lot of forms. Nosferatu set the standard in the 20s as an expressionist film. Buffy made it all into a bit of a laugh. The Blade films are better forgotten than remembered. And the Twilight series took the classly, immortal damned folk and made them into sparkly whiners.

Jim Jarmusch's Only Lovers Left Alive takes a subtler and slower approach than most. Vampires are few and far between in OLLA, with the titular lovers Adam (Tom Hiddleston) and Eve (Tilda Swinton) (yes, they really are called Adam and Eve... I know) spending years apart from each other at a time. When you're already centuries, maybe more, old and you've got a good chance of living forever you can take a bit of time for yourself away from everyone.

Adam and Eve tend to form two sides of the same coin. Adam secludes himself and becomes world weary. He creates and inspires for centuries but grows tired of humanity's self sabotage and destruction. Eve sees the beauty in the world and friendship, choosing instead to see the world's cycles that even the immortal can't escape.

Hiddleston and Swinton are the emotional core of this film where plot is sparse. The two take on their roles as the proto-hipsters of culture and long term partners wonderfully. Hiddleston is brooding and listless as if his immortality stopped him aging during his nihilistic 16-year-old phase and Swinton brings a marvellous agelessness quality to Eve. She has this strange ability to look both extremely young and old at the same time. A truly youthful expression on a slightly aged face is exactly what's needed and it's exactly what she brings.

A moody and sulking soundtrack compliments the visual design amazingly well. I'll usually say a great soundtrack is just one part of the atmosphere and you shouldn't be drawn out by it, but the music by Jozef van Wissem and Sqürl is nearly a characters in itself. Alongside the visuals (which peaks in the costuming of the central characters), the music and philosophical conversations between the lovers Only Lovers Left Alive feels like one of the most artistic vampire films for a long, long time.

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