Film Reviews

ONLY LOVERS LEFT ALIVE

By • May 19th, 2014 •

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Swinton and Hiddleston are sensuous creatures giving depth to the vampire hagiography.

Every vampire book and movie fails to consider that vampires – by their very nature “immortal” – must lead spotless, law-abiding lives. Because many countries have a sentence known as “Life, without the possibility of parole”.

Imagine what would happen if a 300 year-old vampire got caught sucking the life out of a homeless man? Well, I guess having a vampire in residence would solve our prison problem. We do hold 25% of the world’s prison population!

Indeed, could the myth of the vampire actually have some concrete basis? Elderly lab mice did much better at memory and learning tasks after repeated blood transfusions from three-month old mice. Dr. Wyss-Coray of Stanford University told the journal Nature Medicine that the improvements were so marked that “Future studies are warranted in aged humans”. He said the research pointed towards “a successful strategy to combat the effects of ageing.” It’s being called “vampire therapy”.

So is this the key to rock icon Keith Richards’ longevity? Richards has been the subject of a rampant rumor that just won’t go away, claiming he was so desperate to get clean from heroin for a European tour in 1973 that he went to clinic in Switzerland and had all of his blood replaced with clean blood. Keith had the money to be way ahead of his time.

Eve (Tilda Swinton) lives in Tangiers. I’ve been to Morocco and I prefer Fez. I would live in the Medina of Fez. However, all of Morocco – except Casablanca – is mysteriously seductive.

Director Jim Jarmusch captures the dry desert eroticism of Tangiers. While Eve lounges in royal robes and walks fearlessly through the streets at night, her centuries-old lover, Adam (Tom Hiddleston), lives as a recluse in Detroit. Adam is still under the dark influence of his pals, the poets Percy Bysshe Shelley and Lord Byron, and no doubt, Oscar Wilde. He’s depressed and spends his days creating music solely for himself and buying rare guitars.

Adam used to be famous but has now become a phantom. Kids are still looking for him. He’s the “Jim Morrison” of vampires.

Apparently, all vampires have lots of money. Since Eve and Adam have been around for centuries and hobnobbed with everyone famous and infamous, they were able to invest early in electricity and buy the first paintings by the then-unknown Rembrandt.

Eve communicates with Adam via Skype. She indulges him and reverently treats him like a temperamental artist.

Eve and Adam are delicious creatures. They are supermodel thin, beautifully dressed, and have translucent white skin and piercing eyes. If only they used better conditioners on their hair. Apparently, human blood does not enrich one’s hair after death.

Eve’s best friend in Tangiers is Christopher Marlowe (John Hurt) who, by his crumbling appearance, informs us that vampires do get old. It just takes them longer – by centuries. Or, Marlowe led a rather robust life filled with deplorable assaults on his body.

So Marlowe really was a vampire! That explains the inconsistencies concerning his death. Historical records are muddy. Since Marlowe was arrested in the Netherlands for his alleged involvement in the counterfeiting of coins and then conveniently died, a theory has arisen that Marlowe may have faked his death and then continued to write under the assumed name of William Shakespeare. Mystery solved.

These totally elite dead beings find feeding on living commoners to be so déclassé. Ever see a billionaire on line at a McDonalds?

This group of sophisticated vampires have other methods. Humans – “zombies” – can be dealt with. They love cash and vampires have plenty of it. So over the years Christopher Marlowe has developed the slavish devotion of a shop owner, who cares for him. He also has a contact for the purest blood.

Adam, on the other hand, has a hospital technician, Dr. Watson (Jeffrey Wright), who sells him blood. (So now I have proof that Quest Diagnostic is selling my blood to vampires! I keep complaining they are taking too much and, therefore, give me an extra vial for my rituals.) He also has a devoted go-to guy, Ian (Anton Yelchin) a procurer of all goods. He doesn’t have an inkling about Adam.

Eve worries about Adam, so she arrives in Detroit to help him out of his funk. They make love like teenagers and still worship each other unconditionally.

So what disrupts this happy reunion of the lovers? The arrival of Eve’s wayward sister Ava (Mia Wasikowska). She’s trouble and she’s hungry. Ava misbehaved a century ago and Eve and Adam can hold a grudge much longer than us “zombies”. Ava appears to have neglected making wise investments over the millennia. She drinks up all of Eve’s pure blood stash and destroys Adam’s favorite guitar.

Swinton can do no wrong. Ever. Hiddleston is aflame (I named my kitten “Loki”) right now with his Avengers franchise, but LOVERS is far more rewarding for his talents. Hiddleston was fantastic as Rachel Weisz’s lover in the little-seen THE DEEP BLUE SEA.

While the screenplay by Jarmusch is thin on action – you’d think a vampire’s existence would be fraught with fear of exposure, the relentless pursuit of hitchhikers, and the constant meddling of bureaucracy over ownership of those damn estates and priceless antiquities – instead, vampires have charmed lives.

At least Tangiers does not have cameras on every corner and neither Eve nor Adam drives a car.

Instead of a gripping, fully-realized drama, Jarmusch gives us a dazzling presentation of aristocratic vampires struggling to express themselves artistically – even though there is a tad of self-important depression hindering the process.

For those who like their vampires as beautiful creatures philosophically talking about art, literature and music, ONLY LOVERS is a visual feast.

Member of Broadcast Film Critics Association: www.bfca.org/

Member of Las Vegas Film Critics Society: www.lvfcs.org/.

Victoria Alexander lives in Las Vegas, Nevada and answers every email at masauu@aol.com.

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