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Only Lovers Left Alive: Just Goes to Show, We Don't Know S*** About Fungi

Updated on May 8, 2014

3.5 Stars

3 stars for Only Lovers Left Alive

The Review

If you’re in the mood to see something exceptionally bizarre, this is the film for you! I do not say this sarcastically, or with malice. In all honesty, I find Only Lovers Left Alive to be a thought provoking, enjoyable film. With Tom Hiddleston and Tilda Swinton at the helm, how can it go wrong? It is a true achievement in their canon of work; the chemistry is undeniable. If not for anything else, see the film for their performances, but also see the film because it is not yet another Marvel production.

This is not a film full of action. Although some conflict arises, it’s never anything major. So what’s the appeal? The exemplary execution of a simple story. Adam and Eve are two lovers who have been in love throughout the centuries. Throughout the centuries? Well, here’s the twist; they’re vampires. No! Don’t run off! They don’t sparkle! I waited to mention the fact that our main characters are vampires simply due to the fact that the film does, as well. While that is an important attribute to the film, I would not say it is a film about vampires, but a film about lovers.

Adam is a reclusive musician who lives alone on the outskirts of Detroit. He has one “zombie” acquaintance who connects him to the outside world. (“Zombie” is what the vampires call humans.) He has been alive for an indeterminate amount of time, but we know it has been hundreds of years, if not thousands. Living in the dark for so long, alone, with only his thoughts to keep him company, turned a possibly once romantic man, suicidal. He asks his zombie friend, Ian (Anton Yelchin), to bring him a wooden bullet…

Eve is a different story. She loves life. She lives in Tangier, where we see her read numerous books in various languages in a matter of minutes. She dances and meets with her friend, Christopher Marlowe. Yes, the16th century author. However, after talking to a darkly disturbed Adam, she decides to fly to Detroit to see him. It is never clear as to why they were separated in the first place, but it is clear that once she arrives, they never should have been. They belong together.

The charming start to the film begins to lose itself in a rather dragged out middle. Cue a lot of driving and sleeping. Although that may have been overdone, the introduction of Eve’s sister, Ava (Mia Wasikowska), presents a new dynamic. Ava’s young, naïve nature brings an almost comedic tone to an otherwise dramatic piece. Adam’s hate for Ava, and her love of everything creates a much needed tension in the story. However, in an almost Hitchcockian way, Ava leaves the story just as abruptly as she arrives. She only leaves, though, after creating quite the debacle, one that must be cleaned up by Adam and Eve.

If a movie is to leave out a lot of action, it must rely heavily on the story. If you look at most superhero films, yes, they have stories, everything has a story, but do they ever really dig deep? I’d say not. I do not wish to put down superhero films, I love them, but my point is that the writing does not have to be all that clever because that is not what the audience is there to see. They want to see the Hulk bashing Loki around Stark Tower. Only Lovers Left Alive does not have a Hulk to rely on, so we look to the story.

Personally, I thought the writing was excellent. My only major issue with the film is how easily the suicidal aspect of Adam’s character is forgotten. Eve addresses it once, and he seems to be cured. Other than that, in such a serious film, I was surprised when I found myself laughing out loud at a few lines. (Hence my title.) Jim Jarmusch, writer and director of the film, found a way to normalize vampires. They just seem like two people who happen to have a different diet: vegetarians, but so not. This isn’t a story about one exciting incident in their lives, but how they choose to exist in a time where being a vampire isn’t as it used to be. Frankly, the excitement in their lives seems long past. Today’s world doesn’t allow for vampires to live exciting, or even comfortable lives. Vampires can go to jail, too, ya know. Everyone must make sacrifices.

Although it may run a bit long, the chemistry between two exceptional actors kept my attention. Digging into the lives of a musician and bibliophile who just so happen to be vampires, is such a unique concept I truly appreciate. It is original, charming and beautifully constructed. I hope that some of you will give it a chance. It’s worth the watch.


Opened in the US: April 11, 2014

Rated R

Run Time 2:03

Only Lovers Left Alive Soundtrack

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Filming Locations

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A markerDetroit, MI -
Detroit, MI, USA
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B markerHamburg, Germany -
Hamburg, Germany
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C markerCologne, North Rhine - Westphalia, North Germany -
Cologne, Germany
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D markerTangiers, Morocco -
Tangier, Morocco
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