“Initially, the steady pace does a lot to incite intrigue until the first hour rattles by and it becomes painstakingly clear that the film is essentially going nowhere.”
Only Lovers Left Alive Review
By Matt Allen
Only Lovers Left Alive (2014)
Cast: Tom Hiddleston, Tilda Swinton, Mia Wasikowska, John Hurt
Director(s): Jim Jarmusch
Screenwriter(s): Jim Jarmusch
Running Time: 123 mins
For what feel like centuries, but is in fact closer to a couple of decades, the vampire myth has had the life drained out of it by an onslaught of successive teen-targeted atrocities that bare very little resemblance to the ghoulish tale they are based upon (sunlight makes them twinkle?! I mean really…). The abusers know who they are so we won’t go through with the formality of naming and shaming. Instead, we take a look at Jim Jarmusch’s latest mood-piece that attempt to take the bloodsuckers out of the light and place them firmly back in the darkness where they belong.
Rock n Roll vamp Adam (Hiddleston) and his albino wife Eve (Swinton) spend their eternal lives swanning about like they’re better than everyone else and lamenting the “zombies” that surround them.
Jarmusch is well known for his slow burners and Only Lovers Left Alive is by no means an exception. Initially, the steady pace does a lot to incite intrigue until the first hour rattles by and it becomes painstakingly clear that the film is essentially going nowhere. There is very little more to the first act of this film that doesn’t involve Hiddleston saying something morosely bleak or some jarring reference to a historical figure that the couple evidently knew; a tactic that can still be entertaining despite having be done to death and yet still never lands here without a clang.
The jaded leads are cast well; Hiddleston with his pointed features and sympathetic glare handles the duties of suicidal creature of the damned with effortless cool and Swinton (despite looking like something from one of the lesser Matrix sequels) could well have been breast fed on heroin and gracefully plays his lover/mother figure. Sadly, the dialogue only serves them on a hit and miss basis and ultimately their performances are unable to save a cadaver of a script. The lead character’s names should give some indication of the level of imagination that went into this one.
The premise appears to be a limp attempt at satire by endowing a pair of aging scenesters with immortality and thus justifying their ‘been there, done that’ attitude towards life as well as giving them the excuse to wear sunglasses indoors, without being Stevie Wonder or Jack Nicholson; the only two men that can actually get away with that. Before long, Eve’s bratty sister shows up (the embodiment of the irredeemable younger generation) looking for a place to stay and to score some top-shelf plasma. Spanners and works collide and the rest is relatively predictable.
In short, the film tries far too hard to appear ‘intellectual’ – evidenced by the incessant references that are crowbarred into every scene – but comes off as embarrassingly pretentious. Perhaps it would have fared better as a decent short film rather than a bloated feature.
Overly stylized, self-indulgent pap. Clumsy in its humour and wilfully dull. They should have called this one Only Lovers Left Awake.