Thursday, August 21, 2014

Only Lovers Left Alive 2014


          They wear their sunglasses at night. One could say that this is like one of those romantic films, a throwback to those fluffy 30’s and 40’s romantic comedies about long and fruitful marriages with the husband and wife taking a vacation from bored wedlock and living separately in far off places only to come back together when they realize how much they love and miss each other. Oh yes I should add that the husband Adam played by Tim Hiddleston an actor new to me and Eve the wife played by the luminous Tilda Swinton who always seems new to me are vampires. Oh not another vampire movie I can hear you saying along with all the moans and groans, but wait these are two charming, clever and culturally sophisticated drinkers of blood.
                      He makes music and collects expensive and beautiful musical instruments with a strong leaning towards guitars and she is literature driven, a compulsive reader who has a great way with speed-reading. Eve when the film opens is living in Tangier while Adam is holed up in a depilated mansion in Detroit. Clever settings that Jim Jarmusch the director and writer of this horror delight sets us down in. Both of these dears are reformed creatures of the night, having sworn off feeding off humans or zombies as Adam calls us and instead get their red liquid nourishment from suppliers.
                     In Detroit it’s a tainted hospital doctor named Watson played by a snarky and very funny Jeffrey Wright, while in Tangier Eve gets her stuff from her best pal and fellow vampire Christopher Marlow (yes that Chris Marlowe) wonderfully acted by John Hurt. Eve finally picks up and travels to Detroit because she’s worried about her love and his depressed moods, and after a complicated flight arrives at his door with only books as her luggage. 
                   Soon the couple are sharing nocturnal drives through a devastated Detroit and in one terrific scene Adam takes Eve to visit the once Majestic movie palace “The Michigan” where they appreciate the rare beauty of this ruin as if they were touring Pompeii or some other ancient relic of the old world. There are other quick glimpses of movie theatres both in Motor City and Tangier very quick but I have a feeling that this was a way for Jarmusch to pay tribute to his love of movies and the way we use to view them and also to remind us that hey its only a movie.
                          There is also plenty of talk about literature. At one point Eve blames Adam’s dour moods on “those romantics, Byron and Keats and the French ones”, and begs him to tell her what  Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley was really like, a droll and funny moment. There is also plenty  of music in the film both original and otherwise including the great  Denise LaSalle and Charlie Feathers which Adam and Eve  listen to on on old 45’s.
           Soon though there is trouble knocking at their door and it arrives like a dervish whirl. It’s Eve’s bad girl sister Ava played by Mia Wasikowska who behaves very badly indeed, with the windup being the dumping of a body into an acidy like polluted pool of water that quickly dissolves the body and which causes Eva to remark “now that was visual”. 
                  Adam and Eve are soon making a hasty retreat back to Tangier where they find a dying Marlowe brought down by tainted blood and here we are down by law and love. I know that this film is not much in the light of the day , but I found it  splendidly entertaining and a visual feast thanks to Jamusch’s fine painterly eye and his use of the great cinematographer Yorick Le Saux and the jam packed production design by Marco Bittner Rosser.  This might make it to my ten best list.


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