Gregory G. H. Rihn (milwaukeesfs) wrote,
Gregory G. H. Rihn

Only Lovers Left Alive

After seeing it on Monday the 5th, Georgie declared "Only Lovers Left Alive" to be "an elegant, eerie, melancholy movie," and it's hard to better that assessment.

Although all the main characters, Eve (Tilda Swinton), Adam (Tom Hiddleston), Kit (John Hurt), and Ava (Mia Wasikowska), are vampires, it is not a typical vampire movie. It is really about immortality and the ennui that endless life can bring.

Although Eve and Adam are married (and evidently have been for several centuries), they live apart. She has golden home in Tangiers, full of books. He haunts a ruinous house in Detroit, as desolate as any Carpathian Castle, and makes mopey music on his collection of vintage guitars. Eve embraces technology, calling Adam on her iPhone and travelling on a dozen credit cards. Adam takes her calls on a 70's vintage cordless phone, hot-wired to an old TV set for video calls, and pays for everything with wads of cash. Eve still finds joy in existence, "embracing nature." Adam is depressed and discouraged by the short-sighted stupidity of the "zombies", as they call normal humans, and making plans to end it all.

Kit and Ava are other facets of the vampire existence. Kit is actually Christopher Marlowe, the poet and playwright, whose conversion to vampirism late in life (and nominal "death") forced him to use the no-talent William Shakespeare as a front man in order to continue writing. Ava is the opposite of Ann Rice's "Claudia" who was made a vampire while still a little girl. Ava is a willful child in the body of an immortal vampire (the horror!).

The characters have adapted to existence in interesting ways. Eve loves literature and reads at least a dozen languages. Adam is a technical genius who learned secrets from Tesla (as well as having hung out with Byron and Shelley, whom Eve accuses of "ruining" him--). Marlowe still writes, filling notebooks (no hint as to whether he's published anything since Shakespeare's day), whereas Ava is doing the Lost Boys "Sleep all day, party all night" thing.

While vampirism is chiefly the mechanism for immortality, it is made clear that the vampires are "junkies" for blood. The blissed-out expressions we see after they have taken a drink of blood are those of someone who has taken a hit of really good dope. And, it is the difficulty of making a "connection" that brings on the crisis of decision between existence and termination.

Director and writer Jim Jarmusch has made perhaps the most thoughtful vampire film ever, and certainly the most stylish since 1983's "The Hunger," with which "Only Lovers" is being frequently compared, although they are very different stories.

Beautifully shot, feelingly acted, "Only Lovers Left Alive" is indeed an eerie, elegant, melancholy work of art. Highly recommended.

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