“Only Lovers Left Alive” is a story about vampires in love, but unlike “Twilight”, it is a damn good film. “Lovers” tells the story of Adam and Eve, played by Tom Hiddleston and Tilda Swinton. This is not a romance about opposites attracting, rather a narrative about two people, who happen to be vampires, that find each other’s differences beautiful.
Jim Jarsmuch creates a rich, slightly dirty world with “Lovers.” The director known for indie hits like “Broken Flowers” with Bill Murray and “Dead Man” starring Johnny Depp, has reached a whole new level both stylistically and in his all around command of the film. Not to mention the note-perfect soundtrack.
Hiddleston’s Adam is morose and melancholic, wanting nothing to do with the outside world or the “zombies” who live in it. He is a reclusive musician and it is heavily implied that he was famous in the ‘60s, but very much regrets that. Adams lives in an abandoned house in the ruins of Detroit, idling his time away with his music and gadgets.
Meanwhile, Eve is living in Tangier, Morrocco. There she spends her evenings people watching or chatting with her old friend and Adam’s mentor, Christopher Marlowe, who is also a vampire, played by John Hurt. Eve would like nothing more than to see the world find out that Marlowe had ghostwritten all of Shakespear’s work, but he is content with the way things are. Marlowe’s reveal also includes a hilarious gallery of the who’s who of the vampire world. Soon enough though, Eve decides to travel to Detroit and see Adam.
When they are together, Adam is almost a different person. He leaves the house and shows Eve the beauty to be found hiding in all of the abandoned buildings. While still melancholic, he is much happier. That is until they find out that they’ve all been having dreams about Eve’s sister Ava, who Eve believes is looking for them.
Each vampire seems to have a unique gift. Adam with his music and gadgets, Marlowe the brilliant author, and Eve who can tell the history of any object she touches along with a keen sense of intuition. Ava however, brings death and destruction to everything she comes into contact with. Ava, played by Mia Wasikowska, is a never ending train wreck.
The central conflict of the film lies with Ava. Adam can not stand being near her after all the problems she’s caused over the centuries, while Eve seems to know that she really can’t help it and feels sorry for her. Her presence threatens to unravel everything from Adam’s hard-won anonymity to the joy Eve has brought back into his life.
The performances are masterful, the cinematography is amazing and all the minor roles are perfectly cast. The film shows us that Detroit is just as gorgeous as Tangier, in its own way. What I can’t figure out is, why the movie would be released in April instead of being pushed as an award season contender. After all, the film was nominated for the Palm d’Or, the highest award given, at last year’s Cannes Film Festival.
“Only Lovers Left Alive” is a truly haunting and beautiful movie. Hiddleston and Swinton’s performances exceed every expectation, even though they both set the bar so high. For my money’s worth, it is also the best movie of the year so far. I give the film five Buffalo Chips. “Only Lovers Left Alive” opens in limited release April 11, it will also be on video-on-demand for certain cable/satellite providers.