ONLY LOVERS LEFT ALIVE (2014)

Written & Directed By: Jim Jarmusch 
Cinematography By: Yorick Le Saux 
Editor: Affonso Goncalves 

Cast: Tilda Swinton, Tom Hiddleston, Mia Wasikowska, Jeffrey Wright, Anton Yelchin, John Hurt

A depressed musician reunites with his lover, though their romance – which has already endured several centuries – is disrupted by the arrival of an uncontrollable younger sister.


As with most Jim Jarmusch films. Though it seems singular. The film is very open especially when it comes to mood. It’s subtle, but on-screen in each film are ideas. Not grand blockbuster dreams, but a working intellectual imagination. You watch and soak in the rich surroundings cascading all over you so that you never want to leave as they feel like nourishment that you have been deprived of for way too long. Making decadence look full and grand. Finding beauty in a certain run-down ruin.

Setting up a universe full of history, interests, and obsessions. Strangely the film feels timeless and luminous. Philosophical as always, two survivors surveying the world. Seeing the changes and not sure if they necessarily still belong, but keep going. Fueled by the memories of each other’s company.

This might be the most romantic film I have seen in a while. A visual poet. The film feels like it has a texture of rich ambiance like chocolate. But admirable this is the first of his recent films drawn to more than usual. It’s not as penetrating as I hoped it would be. Not as wild, nor luckily not as subdued as I feared also.

Tom Hiddleston proves as an actor he is more than Loki and his likable performance was more than a fluke. This is a relief as I believe Michael Fassbender was in talks to play the role.

The film feels personal like a thinly disguised opinion piece as all humans are referred to as zombies mindless and unenlightened. Vampires as geniuses are seen as tortured, punished and persecuted though they’re obsessive, artistic students of time and the world and work for the better. As they study and have a singular nature. Don’t worry as much about impressing and fitting in. The eternal outsider.

There was some action in the film at first. But when Jarmusch was asked to add more he instead removed all of it.

One of the attractions of the film is Tilda Swinton’s voluminous hair. It seems a valentine to her. Maybe a thinly disguised one. As she has collaborated with Jarmusch before, Here she finally gets a leading role in his film and is the stronger character of the two leads. More of the take charge and sees to wear the pants, more the caretaker. Whereas Adam you can tell cares and loves but seems self-destructive, Selfish, and indulgent. Though he seems to be a poet only with music and has plenty of fans who worship him and will be remembered as eternal as his art lives on. Though he wants to personally be left alone and disappear.

The word “vampire” is never used throughout the film.

Saving the world as an antique from itself. As time passes vampires seem to just witness the evolution as time passes and there is no real end. As when you talk to them they can only tell you what they miss from before. The vampire’s point of view seems to go back to the original. Back to the original beings with its characters named Adam and Eve.

In the first draft, Eve was 2000 years old and the druid of a matriarchal Celtic tribe. Adam was 5-600 years old. Jarmusch decided that Adam and Eve would be aware of each other’s true age so he argued they have no reason to state it in the film.

The film makes you wish you could stay a bystander be a witness in their world. Framed with luminous handpicked classic tunes that carry the film’s flow making it move through the air like a vapor.

Although Jim Jarmusch wanted to shoot this movie on film and has a general distaste for digital cinematography, he had to use the Arri Alexa for budgetary reasons. He managed to work with low lighting and specific lenses in order to come up with a look he found acceptable enough to work for him

One of the books that Eve packs for her trip to Detroit is a catalog of Jean-Michel Basquiat’s work. Jeffrey Wright played the title character of the movie BASQUIAT.

Mia Wasikowska brings a youthful energy tad eve’s bratty younger sister. Who acts an feels like an adopted undisciplined child to the couple more than anything else. She also seems to represent the more youthful, young easily bored constantly in motion. Modern-day sensibility versus old school classic.

It seems with vampire films as of late to include a younger dangerous wild sibling (KISS OF THE DAMNED, BYZANTIUM ) just to ad complications or an adversary. An old soul companion it feels like this film will become a cult film. Found on the shelf of college-aged film aficionados and hipsters looking to spout enlightenment and feel deeply.

The film feels like a white stripes/Jack White album. Soulful, romantic, powerful, classic abstract yet rambunctious. Hypnotic watching it the film is like being under a spell.

The camera is not sticking around. The camera can be still and roaming at the same time as we journey through the Decadent graveyard of Detroit, taking place at night. See their obscure beliefs being themselves without others to obscure it. As they roam like two enlightened functioning junkies.

Though the film mostly stays interior. The film manages to be worldly and international. As like the leads, this film feels like it’s a collector picking up artifacts along the way to represent memories.

The film performs like a muse stunning in it’s beauty and fills you with an almost obsessive passion that you can’t describe. Yet gives you a feeling that will always make you remember as it makes it’s an impression, Though always feeling natural like it belongs.

We all have to go on for our own survival in the end. so we save ourselves as the old living off of the youth to stay alive. If you are a fan of Jarmusch’s Films this is a definite must-see. It might even work as an introduction to his films for those who have managed to miss his previous films. Either way, it’s a nice addition to his library and your home library. As for once though a love story, it also shows a sense of history and revels in ideas.

 Grade: B+

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