Sunday, May 25, 2014

The Case for Love Left

Only Lovers Left Alive stars the twin thins of Tilda Swinton and Tom Hiddleston as Eve and Adam, two long lived (or should that be long undead?) vampires in a world that is slowly decaying, as their food source is uninspired and tainted by modern pollutants.  

They are not the only vampires left alive, but Adam prefers a life of solidarity, creating moody music on classic instruments in a rundown part of Detroit, whereas Swinton spends her time amongst the books she loves, wandering out into the streets of Tangiers only when she needs to catch up with her supplier, Marlowe, played all too briefly by John Hurt. When Adam gets all depressed about the state of the world, Eve decides to go visit him, flying first class but only at night all the way.  The arrival of Eve shakes up Adam’s world, bringing a few surprises and shocks along the way.

The film itself is not a typical vampire flick.  Killing is at a minimum: blood tends to be obtained through black market means rather than from the veins of assorted virgins.  The vampires are very creative, with Adam some sort of indie rock superstar bemoaning the state of modern music (Eve is more into her literature, though she doesn’t seem to write herself).  Humans are zombies, though the type of zombies you occasionally hang out with in bars… the metaphor didn’t make a huge amount of sense to me when I concentrated on it, but I got the general idea.

Concentration though is needed, as while the film is great to look at and the performances all excellent, I cannot say it is the fastest moving of flicks.  There are several drives through the most depressed back streets of Detroit that illuminate little (literally as well as figuratively), quite a bit of heavy, slow music, and the performances are all quite low key and unenergetic.  

Still, through it all, the film is fascinating.  Its by Jim Jarmusch, who brought cinema the haunting Dead Man, and this one feels kind of similar, even if it is in colour and about a completely different genre.  

As fascinating as it was, I have to admit that I found my eyelids getting heavy about halfway through the film, as the slow, hypnotic pace got to me.  It also didn’t help that it was a relatively late screening at the Penthouse in Brooklyn after quite a tiring week.  However, while I did have that mid-movie moment, the film picked up once the leads got together and by the end I was once again alert and riveted.  

Verdict: Only Lovers Left Alive is a strange, enigmatic film, that slowly takes its time telling its rather simple tale.  All the actors (is that Chekov in there from Star Trek?) are fantastic, the music is depressing, and the world seems a sick, sad place at the end of it all.  Mission accomplished.  7 litres of blood out of 10.

And I failed to post this at Lego Movie review time, much to my chagrin!

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