Only Lovers Left Alive (2013)

Drama, Horror, Romance
Tilda Swinton, Tom Hiddleston, Anton Yelchin, Mia Wasikowska
A depressed musician reunites with his lover, though their romance - which has already endured several centuries - is disrupted by the arrival of uncontrollable younger sister.
Worth watching for Tom Hiddleston and Tilda Swinton's performances alone, Only Lovers Left Alive finds writer-director Jim Jarmusch adding a typically offbeat entry to the vampire genre.
  • Sony Pictures Classics Company:
  • R Rated:
  • IMDB link IMDB:
  • 25 Dec 2013 Released:
  • N/A DVD Release:
  • $1.6M Box office:

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Rock n Roll Vampires8/10
One knows that a Jim Jarmusch movie about vampires is not going to be like any other vampire film. In fact it would be unkind to class this as a vampire movie. Only Lovers Left Alive is a highly stylized and atmospheric film bemoaning the passing of the great rock n roll and Hippy era. Here we have a vampire couple (Swinton & Hiddleston - both excellent and perfectly cast) living an isolated life in an abandoned house in Detroit, USA. Hiddleston used to be a famous rock n roll artist who has become a recluse collecting old guitars and records. They survive by purchasing blood samples from a corrupt doctor. We also have one of their old vampire friends (John Hurt) living in Tangiers where the blood is specially pure. Things take an unexpected turn when Swinton's mischievous sister (Mia Wasikowska) visits them. Only Lovers Left Alive has cult film written all over it. The music is great too and blends perfectly with the atmosphere. Essential for Jarmusch fans and recommended to others too!
A stunning love story between two undying souls10/10
This is Jim at his utter best. The balance between emotive writing and gentle quiet spaces within the script are total perfection. The characters are well rounded and very easy to empathize with, which is surprising for a couple of centuries old vampires. There is none of the usual gaudy over the top vampiric crap that usually fills these types of movies. It's a love story at heart and one that does a fantastic job of balancing itself so that the intimacy shown on screen is divine taste of these interesting characters lives without falling over the top into some strangely perverse romcom. There is humor and and satire in abundance, though it is never cheapened or thrown into the mix to fill a gap. No this film in entirety is sweet and humbling. The sets are rich and perfectly put together, the performances are flawless from each and every member of the cast no matter how long their involvement. This movie is the type that causes you to want to crawl into it's story and settle down to live within it.
hollow shells6/10
Wonderful imagery. style and atmosphere in the extreme. great acting. Beauty in many forms: you get a lot for your eyes. Also, depending on your taste in music, there is also a lot for your ears.

For your brain, sadly, not as much.

"Only lovers left alive" is filled with a lot of name-dropping, by word, picture and sometimes sound. Whether you find that fascinating or pretentious depends on your taste.

But what this movie really lacks is a story. The characters are throughout and the dialogue may be scarce, but has some dry humour and snappy lines. That doesn't save it from going nowhere. Glaring plot holes may make you cringe at times. And the pacing looks like Jarmush tried to surpass Kaurismaki in terms of slowness. If so, he won.

So perhaps this movie is best tasted in the state its protagonists enter after relishing an excellent glass of blood: dazed, blissful, and somewhat drugged.
Probably the worst film I've ever seen1/10
I specifically registered with IMDb to write this review, as I don't want anyone else to have to sit through this film. I have absolutely no idea why it's being reviewed so favourably. It is truly, truly awful and I spent the majority it watching through my hands, because I just couldn't stand the overbearing mediocrity of the whole thing. There is absolutely nothing original about it, and as others have said, the dialogue is teeth-clenchingly risible.

I was nervous from the very first conversation, when the Hiddleston's character loftily name- drops a historical figure he knew (because he's like, you know, really old? Get it?). His pal says 'what happened to him?' Hiddleston replies 'Ahh, he was casually shot by a parliamentarian', to which the response is 'Whoah man, that sucks.'. Alarm bells were a-ringing.

If you were to ask the least-gifted film-maker on earth what he would do to try and liven up the dialogue of a two world-weary, wise old vampires, he would probably confidently reply 'They could talk about all the awesome people they've known throughout history! It would be amazing!'. And so we have it that time and again, a passage of dialogue exists only to demonstrate that one of them knew a celebrity from the last 400 years.

For example, the Adam and Eve (sigh) are playing chess when Eve pipes up 'Did you play chess with Byron?' Adam says 'Ah, why do you always do this?', Eve says 'Oh come on, you know I love to hear about these kind of things' Adam replies 'He was a pompous ass.'. Eve guffaws. It's not over yet though. There's more blood to be beaten out of this stone. She continues with 'And what about Mary? Mary Wollstonecraft?' Adam replies with 'She was delicious.' REALLY? Are we actually doing this? Is this what I paid to see? It was like a scene from mid-90s TV movie Bernard and The Genie starring Lenny Henry and Alan Cumming, only that had the good sense not to take itself seriously.

Then there is the relentless, exposition about every little thing, as if Jarmusch was so insanely chuffed with each derivative idea he came across that he wanted to make doubly sure you got it. So something's chucked out there (invariably a gag about having been alive for centuries), you roll your eyes, then it's explained why it was said.

As a final hurrah from the Bernard and the Genie gag (and this is the spoiler), as their friend Christopher Marlowe (John Hurt) lies on his death bed, they look at his writing desk. Above it is a picture of Shakespeare. There is then (yet another) exposition conversation which reveals that Marlowe wrote all of Shakespeare's works. Of course he did. He says something along the lines of 'Talentless old hack. But we needed him to take all the credit because I was supposed to be dead.'. If that was the case, why would you have a picture of him above your desk? Is it just so that it could spark off that pointless little conversation for the benefit of the audience?

At one point Eve is on the phone to the airline, booking her ticket to Detroit. It was like a conversation from 60s batman 'What's that commissioner, there's a bomb under the central bank? And we've only got 7 minutes before it goes off?' Eve's conversation went as follows: 'So I'm flying tomorrow night to Paris? Then I'm flying from Paris to Detroit?' The point of this purely being so that a) you get the point (which is repeated later in the film for the return flight) that they can only fly at night (because they're vampires, yeah?) and b) when you see her on a french airline in the next scene, you don't think 'why's she on a French airline?'.

Another example: She finds a wooden bullet that Adam has had made. We know he had it made because there was a whole scene dedicated to him putting in the request for it. She looks closely at the bullet. In reality the emotional impact to her would come from the fact that he has a gun in his flat with a wooden bullet in it. But she is then made to say (bearing in mind she's on her own, and people don't come out with explanatory statements when they're on their own in real life) 'This has been recently made!'. We know it has! And we assume that you know it has because in the previous scene it was demonstrated that you can date things just by touching them! But just to eliminate any doubt, she talks you through it.

The whole film feels like it was edited by Jarmusch's mum, who watched it and, after wiping away a proud tear, said 'I'm not going to change a thing my darling, it's wonderful just as it is.'. Although this does suggest that good editing would have saved this. it wouldn't. It's unwatchable down to its bones.
Two immortal lovers reunite after years of separation.9/10
Yes, Only Lovers Left Alive is another vampire movie. Yes, the characters are very pale and old and romantic. Yes, it is very much full of cliches and stereotypes. However, it is also wickedly smart, beautifully shot, filled to the brim with talent and full of cultural witticisms.

Tom Hiddleston is Adam, Tilda Swinton is Eve and Jim Jarmusch is a genius. This is a director that tells us all we need to know without doubting our intelligence. He allows us to fall into the depths of the film without worrying about a perfectly neat beginning, middle and end. He even stops his characters from following tedious and predictable patterns, because after all, they're too old for that.

This is a movie for film lovers and pop culture enthusiasts. It is a vampire film that takes advantage of its time span; cultural references dating back hundreds of years can be found at every corner. Only Lovers Left Alive does not focus on blood and gore, it is not a thriller nor a horror, it doesn't even truly focus on the world of vampires. Instead, Jarmusch studies the eternal, he explores the quiet, perhaps boring, every day life of a modern, intelligent and ancient being who has, quite literally, seen it all.

- Sinann Fetherston.

You can find a full review at MoviefiedNYC.