“Nosferatu.” “Dracula.” “Vampyr.” “Near Dark.” It isn’t too soon to add “Only Lovers Left Alive” to the list of the greatest vampire films – although this newest entry into the genre isn’t exactly a horror film, per se. The staples of the myth are there (sunlight = bad, etc.), but this film is more concerned with the attitudes of these centuries-old beings than with the terror they inflict upon we humans. That they are in fact, vampires, is almost incidental, but that status affords an easy explanation for their cooler-than-thou stance towards the rest of the world.
More so to the allegorical point than merely laying it on thick, Tilda Swinton and Tom Hiddleston play Eve and Adam, creatures of the night who, in a bid to prolong their survival in a modern world, do all they can to avoid the attention that inevitably follows a blood-drained corpse. Having found other ways to obtain their necessary intake of hemoglobin, they spend their nights dabbling in music (he’s a famously reclusive musician), FaceTiming (she’s keen on newer technology), and mourning the general state of the world. Most humans are “zombies” to them, for their dearth of appreciation for life and the wasting of their talents.
Which is to say that “Only Lovers Left Alive” is probably as esoteric as it sounds, and arthouse favorite Jim Jarmusch’s languid approach – which suggests idle passengers watching the world go by – will likely leave you feeling sublime, or nothing at all. This viewer was immediately taken with his pseudo-comic vision of cursed immortality. The leads are fittingly otherworldly (especially when photographed in radiant nighttime hues), and the experience is as defined by the romance of the heart as it is by its stubbornly idealized worldview.
“Only Lovers Left Alive” plays at the GoggleWorks Film Theatre starting Friday, July 25.
Robert Humanick is a contributing writer for slantmagazine.com