Reviewer: James Ackland
Film genre: Drama
Audio: English Dolby 5.1
Running time: 123min (extras 112min)
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
Buy now on BLU RAY from MADMAN!!!
When I think of Jim Jarmusch I think of him as Woody Allen's younger hungrier step brother. A man who has such a vision that it's his way or no way. Every picture of his is so damn Jarmusch that I'm waiting for him to out-Jarmusch himself. Not yet! I tried to avoid using the word "cool" that permeates so many reviews of this film that are out there, but the fact is, everybody's right. He's fucking cool and this movie is probably his coolest. Not just because it's a vampire movie that deals with a hazy rock n' roll vampire and his literature perfumed vampire wife, but also because it mixes music and literature in a way that makes you want to become a beatnik and smoke cigarettes wearing dark shades in a small cafe in the "cool" part of whatever town you live in. I know I did!! Smoking is bad for you and neither of these characters smoke, but you get it…
Jarmusch is not only the director of this film but also like pretty much all of his features it's his own story and script. Hence he can do whatever he damn well pleases. Even scoring it himself with his long term band Squrl. Please do seek out this soundtrack, it's one of the best of 2013!! This sucker was nominated for the Palme d’Or at Cannes by the way!!
At the heart of Only lovers left alive is the relationship and on going survival of two vampires who have been living amongst us for centuries! Tilda Swindon and Tom Hiddleston play Eve and Adam. Eve, a bibliophile who lives in Tangiers and Adam, an underground musician who's privacy is set to level Bowie! Lovers through the ages these two are now separated only by distance and the film revolves around them coming back together and the imminent arrival of Eve's sister Ava playfully acted by Mia Wasikowska (Alice in Wonderland).
Adam spends his days recording and anonymously releasing music while battling the ever growing need for freedom from his more than human form. His only contact is represented by the groupie type character of Ian (Anton Yelchin), again played to heights of awesome that would make Cameron Crowe weep.
While it tackles many tropes of the vampire mythology, this is no horror film and has some real moments of emotion and comedy in the mix. Like many of his films Jarmusch avoids a genre and instead lets himself and the actors play in the world he's created.
Hiddleston sheds his Marvel superhero/villain skin as the much loved Loki and returns as a pure film actor once again and completely sells the idea of the forever troubled vampire. Yes, there is the need for blood that vampire law necessitates, but Jarmusch and Hiddleston take it further with how he has spent his time between feeds and what he has learnt through the eons of undead life. Personally I've never seen this explored too much in vampire films and I'm so impressed they treated these characters like humans dealing with the problem of prolonged life.
Jarmusch Jarmusch Jarmusch!!!
We could talk forever about Tilda Swinton. But in short she is simply the best female actor working today. End of story. Any role she takes, she takes to the grave and there is no better example than in her character Eve. Lover, partner, friend. She is absolutely on point and totally inhabits her. Between her balancing act of dealing with Adam and Ava, she is the anchor of life in this picture. If you need some sanity, she has learnt how to find it and share it. A motherly calm exudes from her and you trust and just melt in her energy.
John Hurt (Alien, The Elephant man) plays Christopher Marlowe a real life historical poet who specialised and all but owned the art of the tragic poem style in the Elizabethan era. Hurt nails it as always and brings an even deeper depth of artistry to the picture. Hurt is his usual charming man and here his depiction is deep and flavoured. Savour that flavour. He’s getting on…
Detroit is also a leading character in this film. A city that fascinates and draws you to booking a ticket to it, though I imagine it's the cool of the film that sells it and may not be your ultimate holiday destination. It's derelict buildings and puddle soaked streets provide a fertile setting for Adams character and his private desperation. If Detroit is the pool of water Adam wades through then Tangier is Eves warm, vibrant and private hide away. Dark narrow passageways with hints of danger and a sense of live that Detroit lacks.
The sound is such a character in this film. Had they botched that up it would be lacking heavily. Thankfully they didn’t. While the Blu ray only boasts a 5.1 surround mix i don’t think anyone is going to complain. It sounds wonderful. Again… GET THE SOUNDTRACK and then look up Yasmine Hamdan. Her vocal and on screen performance are mesmerising.
This is not a bright sparkly “Twilight” vampire movie. It’s dark in it urban decay and the transfer to blu ray holds up amazingly. Dimly lit rooms do not suffer from too much blotchy blacks. They are deep and rich. so don’t fear the dark.
Behind the scenes documentary: Traveling at night with Jim Jarmusch
Interviews with Tilda Swinton, Tom Hiddleston and Mia Wasikowska