Only Lovers Left Alive (2013)

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And the award for the moodiest film of the year goes to… Only Lovers Left Alive! With a dream team cast of Tom Hiddleston, Tilda Swinton in her cheeriest role to date and John Hurt with Mia Wasikowska, it tells the story of a group of vampires, focusing on Adam (Hiddleston) and Eve (Swinton). Having been alive and in love for centuries, Adam and Eve live on different continents. Adam is on his own, making moody music and sneaking up on blood scientists in hospitals. Eve has Marlowe (Hurt) to provide her with blood, the French ‘good stuff’, and snarky comments about Shakespeare. When Adam becomes depressed at humans today, Eve flies to Detroit to visit him but the arrival of her sister, Ava (Wasikowska), puts a strain on their lives and relationship.

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I don’t think I’ve seen a film as gothic as this before. Tim Burton must be throwing a hissy fit.   Everything from the titles to the costume and character designs are so wonderfully dark and moody.  Adam and Eve’s colours are black and white respectively, down to their hair and Eve’s white iPhone. Their relationship is solid and funny, which is what I’d assume you’d get after centuries of marriage. The way they speak to each other makes you feel as though you’re intruding on something, and yet you can’t help but watch as they stand in a bar wearing sunglasses and looking moody. Wasikowski has her second great role of the year as Ava who is not unlike Claudia in Interview With a Vampire. She’s energetic, adventurous and doesn’t seem to abide by vampire rules whereas Adam and Eve prefer to keep themselves to themselves. Her whirlwind is only around for a small part of the film, but she’s an integral part and a very good one as well.

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The style of Only Lovers Left Alive is brilliant. As said before, Adam and Eve are a yin-yan couple with everything down to their hair and phones styled to their colour. The use of Detroit’s abandoned buildings is a great touch and surely made for some ready-to-film sets. Tilda Swinton is surprisingly cheery and Hiddleston wanders around his dark house with his hair over his eyes speaking in a condescending manner to just about everyone except Eve. They’re a wonderfully opposite pair and with the direction from Jim Jarmusch, they make this a really enjoyable film to watch. The only flaw is it felt a little long, possibly from dragging a touch but it wasn’t enough to derail the film.

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Only Lovers Left Alive is a really well made film with a great central and supporting cast and a deadpan tone set, in large part, by Hiddleston’s moody vampire. It has some gorgeous shots; the first one in particular is, whilst dizzying, quite mesmerising and the final shot is perfect. Hiddleston and Swinton carry the film through with their intriguing characters and a few typical vampire jokes mixed with a fair few literary references. It’s an intelligent love story and possibly the best vampire based film I’ve seen since Interview With a Vampire. Hopefully this will start a new trend…

Director: Jim Jarmusch
Writer: Jim Jarmusch (screenplay)
Stars: Tom Hiddleston, Tilda Swinton, Mia Wasikowska
Runtime: 123 min
Country: UK, Germany, France, Cyprus

Film Rating: ★★★★☆

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