Film review: Only Lovers Left Alive (6 out of 10)

Tom Hiddleston and Tilda Swinton in Only Lovers Left Alive.
Tom Hiddleston and Tilda Swinton in Only Lovers Left Alive.

I don’t really have a passion for vampire movies, but barely a year goes by without one turning up on the big screen.

However, the days of extreme blood-letting and fierce battles have been put on hold and in recent times we have had films that take a sideways look at the genre.

None more so than this latest effort from the director Jim Jarmusch who gave us Broken Flowers (2005) and Dead Man (1995).

If you are looking for crucifix-wielding adversaries and lots of coffins and bunches of garlic then you’ll be disappointed.

Jarmusch, who also wrote the screenplay, has taken a long hard look at the whole vampire idea and moved it on logically.

So these vampires prefer to take their blood from hospitals and scorn the old-fashioned idea of sinking their teeth into humans. They can move quickly if needed but they have used the centuries to acquire a deep love of the arts and seem to prefer just lounging about.

The film opens with Eve (Tilda Swinton) in Tangiers and her husband Adam (Tom Hiddleston) in Detroit.

This is long-lasting marriage (around 800 years) so I suppose the vampire couple needed a break!

However, Adam is getting rather depressed. In his view, humans are going nowhere with society.

He calls them ‘Zombies’, presumably because although they are alive, they are dead artistically and spiritually.

So Eve nips over to the US (night-time flights only, though) to sort her hubby out.

There’s also a side-story involving the 16th Century dramatist Christopher Marlowe (John Hurt) who is also a vampire (who knew?) and, of course, was the real talent behind Shakespeare (yes, that old chestnut resurrected).

Plus we meet Eve’s sister Ava (Mia Wasikowska) who is more of a good-time girl and upsets the peace and quiet.

Music plays a very big role in the movie. Adam is a highly accomplished composer and as well as a strong soundtrack there are a couple of ‘live’ performances as part of the film that are very good.

You can’t fault the main cast who are mesmerising at times and Jarmusch is superb at creating the right atmosphere (obviously everything’s shot at night).

However, the director is an acquired taste and some movie-goers may think at the end it’s two hours of their life they won’t get back - unless you’re a vampire of course, in which case it doesn’t really matter.

Film details: Only Lovers Left Alive (15) 123mins

Director: Jim Jarmusch

Starring: Tilda Swinton, Tom Hiddleton, John Hurt

Screening courtesy of Cineworld Crawley