Only Lovers Left Alive

Only Lovers Left Alive [2013]: From multi-talented filmmaker, actor, and composer Jim Jarmusch comes a tale of two melancholic and centuries old vampires (Tilda Swinton & Tom Hiddleston) who struggle to find meaning in life and love in the 21st century.

The Ultimate Historians: One of the several unique elements the film possesses is its choice of personality for its vampiric characters. Hiddleston plays Adam, a creature of the night whose artistic and intelligent prowess spans hundreds of years and yet he hides as an independently recluse musician in the detritus of Detroit. Adam’s wife, Eve (Swinton), follows suit by living isolated in Tangier and is kept company by hundreds of books until she reunites with Adam in Detroit to share in their anonymous misanthropy. As the film progresses, tastes of the characters’ back story are sprinkled through polite discussion between the two as well as conversations Adam shares with his naive instrument supplier Ian (Anton Yelchin). Adam instantly identifies each instrument by their model, year, and “gender” and reflects on famous composers and rock stars gone by, his centennial knowledge masked by his musician persona. Though well versed in his charade, Adam can’t help but awkwardly apply new-age sayings to his speech as an attempt to subtly blend in. “You actually saw Eddie Cochran play?” Ian asks Adam in disbelief. “Yeah, on YouTube…”

Kindred Fates: Eve acts as Adam’s muse and finds more enjoyment in her eternal existence citing the good times as “the middle ages, the inquisitions, the plagues” and reading books on every language in an instant as she traces her fingers lovingly over their pages. She’s the slap-in-the-face reminder for Adam as she tells him how his self-obsession is a waste of living. What Jarmusch has ultimately done is take the melancholic attitudes one would expect from somber indie musicians and artists of today and apply it to two characters that are completely deserving of said feelings. Adam’s comparison of “feeling like the sands at the bottom of the hourglass” is something he and Eve have earned through their longevity and longing for the artistic qualities of yesteryear.

An Endangered Species: In addition to Adam & Eve’s artistic disconnection, they also possess a nihilistic outlook on the modern age having bared witness to the degradation of our society whether through pollution or scientific expansion. Adam continually grows sickened by our world he inhabits constantly referring to humanity as zombies who have squandered the world's gifts. Whether they are nature or the brilliant scientists who were silenced out of ignorance. Furthermore, their story becomes an incredible metaphor for drug addiction and STDs. Adam & Eve's gloomy disposition and constant desire to acquire "the good stuff" portrays a parallel to an addict couple finding love within their shared misery of drug abuse whilst coasting through life. However, with humans subjecting themselves to an endless number of chemicals, drugs, and processed food, Adam and Eve not only search out the best blood for its taste and rarity (also playing into their pompous personality) but for the dangers of contamination by unclean blood. Which creates an easy yet clever metaphor for the fatal accident of an infected needle. Ultimately, we’re witnessing the slow and tragic loss of an ancient species brought upon by the destructive nature of society. And with the blood of the world now having become tainted, Adam & Eve are left to contemplate existence and desperately search for meaning in a life that appears to be drawing to a close.

Stylish Substance:  Lastly, the movie’s funereal love story is complimented with vibrant color grading and a morose soundtrack. Adam’s apartment is decorated with garnet furniture and rugs matching his beverage of choice. The lights of nocturnal Detroit resonate upon Adam & Eve’s pale faces with shades of warm orange and soulless blue, all of which is primarily scored by the sounds of an archaic lute mixed with slowly wailing guitars, embodying Adam & Eve’s personalities. Though it is a slow burn film that could've been trimmed, it is a pure representation of what the image of "slow burn" is: A match faintly igniting into a bright flame that trickles down to the end as it mesmerizes you with its flashing orange torrents and sullen blue core; drinking it in as Adam and Eve sip down their precious O negative.

Only Lovers Left Alive is a resplendently somber and deeply complex vampiric love story.