Tuesday, November 18, 2014

only lovers left alive

Jim Jarmusch's Only Lovers Left Alive is an extremely romantic film. It has been dubbed his "vampire movie." but it is less a horror film and more a romance that concerns two vampires. Tom Hiddleston and Tilda Swinton are Adam and Eve, a (really) old married couple. They live a world away from each other, he in Detroit, and she in Tangier, Morocco, but are inextricably linked.

Hungry, in Tangier
Eve, "Tell me now about entanglement. Einstein's spooky action at a distance. Is it related to quantum theory?" 
Adam, "No. I mean, it's not a theory, it's proven." 
Eve, "How's it go again?" 
Adam, "When you separate an entwined particle and you move both parts away from the other, even at opposite ends of the universe, if you alter or affect one, the other will be identically altered or affected." 
Eve, "Spooky. Even at opposite ends of the universe?" 
Adam, "Yeah."

Neither has preyed directly on humans for ages — they explain that most of the human blood supply is tainted, diseased; but one gets the idea that they have removed themselves from such direct contact, preferring to indulge instead in their favorite pastimes — for Adam music, for Eve, literature. Eve gets her pure supply of blood from another vampire, her old friend Christopher Marlowe (John Hurt). And he is that Marlowe, for fans of Elizabethan drama. Adam has an arrangement with a local doctor (Jeffrey Wright) to keep his pantry stocked. When these vampires do take a sip, it is in gorgeous stemware, and the results are blissful, heady, akin to a drug high.

A photo from the couple's third wedding
The film is gorgeous to look at, with cinematography by Yorick Le Saux. The world of the film only exists as night, naturally, and Jarmusch (Night on Earth) is an excellent director to highlight the shadows and mysteries of sunless streets, cities at night. Vampires don't need to do housekeeping or even comb their hair, and the set and costume design renders their dusty and cluttered surfaces and persons in loving detail. The film moves slowly and elegantly, much like its protagonists — that is, until chaos, in the form of Eve's younger "sister" Ava (Mia Wasikowska) turns up. Ava doesn't exactly subscribe to her older sibling's ideas of the proper way to acquire their sustenance, and she also takes a liking to Adam's quasi- yet unsuspecting Renfield, the dim but likable Ian (Anton Yelchin).

There are so many great details in Only Lovers Left Alive. Adam's love of classic guitars and other instruments, and an ability to construct retro-inspired gadgets, like a view-phone to see Eve when she calls him. The more practical Eve has mastered the iPhone and night flights, in order to get to Detroit and buoy up her lover, who is flirting with ending it all with a wooden-tipped bullet. Jarmusch, with his band Sqürl teaming with Jozef Van Wissem, constructs a moody soundtrack which perfectly captures the essence of Adam and Eve's existence. Also appearing near the end of the film is Lebanese singer Yasmine Hamdan, who enchants the lovers with her song "Hal."

The ever-practical Eve introduces Adam to the blood popsicle
Jarmusch films Adam and Eve like beautiful sculptures. His artistic sensibility carries through the film. Viewers get a glimpse of just how his eye works and his crew and actors help realize his vision in a nice short included on the Blu-ray, "Traveling at Night with Jim Jarmusch," a documentary by Lea Rinaldi, where the director compares the set-up of one actor in a scene to a painting by Mantegna. Besides the beauty, and the at-times unsuspected humor, what really enchants in Only Lovers Left Alive are Swinton and Hiddleston. Their chemistry is palpable and believable, and they manage to invest us in their world and their quest for survival. While everyone else is signing up for a zombie apocalypse, I would be hoping more for Adam and Eve's way, a most stylish and arty way to enjoy eternity.


Post a Comment