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'Only Lovers Left Alive' explores existential loneliness—with vampires

May 7, 2014, 12:00 am

Only Lovers Left Alive is Jim Jarmusch’s take on bloodsuckers. It’s only fitting he would get around to vampires eventually—if you’re not given to his particular bent, his work can be exhausting, just like the vampire genre.

Vampire/musician Adam (Tom Hiddleston) lives in Detroit in an out-of-the-way house. He has a human acquaintance, Ian (Anton Yelchin), bring him supplies. One day, with the weight of his existence bearing down on him, Adam asks Ian to bring him a wood bullet. And Ian does.

If you know your vampire lore, wood means one thing. Luckily for Adam, he’s graced with a visit from his wife, Eve (Tilda Swinton). She spends most of her time in Tangier hanging out with Christopher Marlowe (John Hurt).

Adam and Eve’s tender and much-needed tryst is interrupted by the arrival of Eve’s sister, Ava (Mia Wasikowska), a free-spirited and immature vampire who only wants to have fun. Her presence throws everything off balance and in the second half of the movie, the lovers struggle with a decision: Keep (un)living or, finally, die.

Jarmusch taps into existential loneliness with Only Lovers Left Alive. It’s morose, but also quietly appealing. Maybe that’s why his vampire story is effective when so many others suck. Yorik Le Saux’s cinematography is spectacular. To call it a vampire movie isn’t quite fair, but it’s the best vampire movie in a long, long time.


Directed by Jim Jarmusch
With Tom Hiddleston, Tilda Swinton and Anton Yelchin
DeVargas Mall 6
123 min.


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