15th Sep2014

‘Only Lovers Left Alive’ Review

by Paul Metcalf

Stars: Tom Hiddleston, Tilda Swinton, Mia Wasikowska, John Hurt, Anton Yelchin, Jeffrey Wright, Slimane Dazi, Carter Logan | Written and Directed by Jim Jarmusch

OLLA-Tom

It’s fair to say that after Twilight many horror fans thought it was time to retire the vampire for a while. The fact is the point about the fanged ones is that they tend not to die when they are meant to, so what they need is something to make them a little more relevant in the world of monsters. A very good way to do just that is to take Tilda Swinton and Tom Hiddleston and make one of the best vampire movies in years, though don’t expect too much horror in Only Lovers Left Alive, it’s much too sophisticated for that.

When Adam (Tom Hiddleston) an underground musician reaches the pits of depression it takes his lover Eve (Tilda Swinton) to give him a reason to go on. Bemoaning the direction human society is taking and what a waste they have made of their potential nothing seems to make his mood better. Things get worse though when Ava (Mia Wasikowska) decides to drop in on them to cause some chaos in their depressed but peaceful lives.

Tom Hiddleston is perfect as the rock n roll vampire tired of having to put up with what he terms as “the zombies”, the vampire term for the humans. Casually being able to move from menacing to seductively laid back Hiddleston understands the character he is playing, a man who has survived for centuries and even celebrated the human successes, but now just sees society in decline. He’s enjoyed art, music and science and you do feel that there was a time that he was hopeful for the people he befriended. Time has changed though and the zombies and their “infected” blood making it harder for the vampire to feed and most importantly survive. Paying doctors to provide him with a good source of clean blood is a route that can’t last forever, and is an ever present danger on the horizon.

Tilda Swinton is also perfect for her role as the elder vampire of the two, deeply in love with Adam and ready to come save him at a moment’s notice. She is aware of the age of the world, seemingly talented enough to pick up objects ages with only a touch, which is a nice talent to have. Like Adam, Swinton’s Eve character has a love of the arts which we are shown by her friendship of Marlowe (John Hurt) who has similar views about the so-called zombies around them. This almost snobbish feel to the trio is probably why the arrival of Ava is so explosive to Adam and Eve. She is younger and more of a risk, Wasikowska plays her as the most annoying little sister ever, which is exactly what she is meant to be.

The beauty of Only Lovers Left Alive is that fact that the cast are very well-chosen and perfect for the characters they have to play, that includes Anton Yelchin as Ian Adam’s human helper. Brought together by the love of music it comes as no surprise really that the soundtrack for the movie is a highlight and important to the story of Adam. We are given hints about Adam’s origins and where his love of music comes from. His life of a recluse in the wastes of Detroit where streets are seemingly sparsely populated now as the economic hardships hits hard shows in many ways the decay of the world that once inspired. He hides himself away creating his music seemingly believing that he is the only one it is for, though some leaks bring the zombies to his door. For the most part this human intrusion is just to show his irritation with the world around him and his focus is very much keeping away from it.

It is telling that there is no use of the word vampire in Only Lovers Left Alive because in truth the film is more a comment on how society is seemingly in decline. Vampires struggle to find clean blood, creativity seems rare and in ways this is what pains Adam the most, he wants to see the beauty that his zombies can create, but they just don’t seem up to the job. Maybe not as much as a horror as I may have like, Only Lovers Left Alive is a good vampire movie though that tips its hat to The Hunger and with a soundtrack that really stands out as one of the film’s most positive points, it is also very good on the ears.

Only Lovers Left Alive is available on DVD and Blu-ray now.

***** 5/5

Maybe not as much as a horror as I may have like, Only Lovers Left Alive is a good vampire movie though that tips its hat to The Hunger and with a soundtrack that really stands out as one of the film’s most positive points, it is also very good on the ears.

Review originally posted on PissedOffGeek

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