Sunday 27 November 2022

Only Lovers Left Alive (2013)

Anyone fancy a smart, intelligent, arty and funny vampire romp? Look no further, as this ticks all those boxes and more. It certainly is arthouse creativity and is a delight to watch, not least for the wonderful performances of the cast.

This 2013 film is the creation of Jim Jarmusch (Paterson, Broken Flowers) adapted from a French story by Marion Bessay. The story follows five smart characters in present day, four of whom are vampires who've lived for centuries and the fifth a Zombie! Husband and wife vampires, Eve and Adam, have been living separately for some time - he in Detroit and she in Tangiers (we're not really sure why). Eve has an older vampire friend there but Adam in the USA is very much alone, apparently depressed and considering the wooden-bullet exit! He pays his Zombie friend to manage his needs in terms of being surrounded by music and musical instruments.

One evening, they're on the phone and spontaneously decide to get together, which they do in Detroit, only travelling by night flights of course! The grand reunion takes place and Adam continues to service his need for blood via the local hospital - and a bribed lab technician. Eve has a sister, who is also a vampire, and she has seeded dreams into Eve and Adam to alert them to the fact that she could be turning up anytime soon. Which she does. She's an irresponsible vampire, too keen to bump people off to get what she wants instead of following the measured, mature path that our central pair have carved out!

Eve has loyalty to Ava and is happy to see her, but Adam remembers what chaos she caused between them when they last met, during the last century, so doesn't want her around! Anyway, the story is padded out, having fun along the way with quirks and characters and nods to historic facts, myth and incident. John Hurt plays the older chap in Tangiers and it is clear that he's actually Christopher Marlowe, who allegedly wrote half of Shakespeare's work, and comic reference is made to that. Sadly, Hurt is only in 3 scenes, but commands his place in each.

Tilda Swinton (Burn After Reading, The French Dispatch, Broken Flowers) and Tom Hiddleston (The Night Manager, The Essex Serpent, The Deep Blue Sea) play the main two characters sumptuously. Great fun is being had by them both of them and artistic leanings embraced on demand from the director. Mia Wasikowska (Stoker, Alice in Wonderland) plays Ava and really ramps up the fun as she leads our main characters into a thrill-ride which they really were not interested in! Which just leaves Ian the Zombie played most ably by Anton Yelchin (Star Trek, Thoroughbreds, New York I love You).

It's all a great deal of classy, arthouse, fantasy fun but it's been executed beautifully with very interesting music thrown in. Nods all over the place to all sorts of interesting historic stuff including other films - it reminded me very much of Interview with the Vampire, here and there. It's very nicely shot with dark interiors - in fact the whole film is dark, not a single scene in daylight, sun-drenched hours - and culturally reflective of the two locations. It is quite slow in places, but it drips with class, reflecting a very nicely measured project. Recommended. It's on Mubi just now but also scattered across other streaming services.

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