Only Lovers Left Alive


It’s clear by now that Jim Jarmusch films aren’t for me. Dead Man bored me to tears and Broken Flowers started off strong before, well, boring me to tears. That being said, Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai was right down my alley, even though it wasn’t all that different from his other stuff. Now we have Only Lovers Left Alive, and despite my thoughts on Jarmusch’s films, I simply couldn’t miss out on seeing Tilda Swinton, Tom Hiddleston and Mia Wasikowska as vampires.

Only Lovers Left AliveJarmusch’s creatures of the night laze about their homes all day long, Eve (Swinton) in Tangier and Adam (Hiddleston) in Detroit. Suffering from interminable boredom (or was that me?) the two meet up, only to have Eve’s younger sister, Ava (Wasikowska), turn up and spoil everything. There isn’t much else that happens to be honest, and like the majority of Jarmusch’s films, it’s all about mood. And music.

Jarmusch’s band SQÜRL provides the soundtrack. For the most part, there’s a droney kind of instrumental post-rock vibe going on, and it suits the characters to a tee. Cinematographically speaking, the film didn’t impress. I mean, they have some fantastic set dressers – one only need look at the antique electrical equipment around Adam’s house to see that – but the camera never does anything particularly memorable.

It’s important to realise that this is a vampire film for people who haven’t seen many vampire films. Jarmusch’s script doesn’t inject the genre with anything we haven’t seen before. Disdain for mortals – check. Immortality is depressing – check. Name checking all the famous people throughout history that they’ve rubbed shoulders with – check. The last movie that shook up the vampire genre was Let the Right One In (Låt den rätte komma in), and I’ve yet to see anything since then really leave an impression.

The performances are…decent. All three of the lead characters have made more lasting impressions in other films. The film is often stagey too, mainly because of Jarmusch’s tendency to never yell cut. As a consequence, we follow shots to the very last second. The problem with this is that it starts to feel like watching dailies, rather than a completed film.

The Blu-ray presentation is nice without being mind-blowing. There’s some graininess present in the darker scenes, but it’s otherwise crisp and clean. There are some interviews with the central cast and some trailers also.

If you’re a Jarmusch fan, then this may well be down your alley. It’s clear I’m not the best judge of his work, unless of course it features a samurai who enjoys listening to hip hop.

Rating: 2.5 stars
Review by Stuart Wilson, 16th November 2014
Hoopla Factor: 2 stars

Only Lovers Left Alive is available now on Blu-ray and DVD from Madman.

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