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Only Lovers Left Alive

Sunday 2 March 2014, by James Clossick

The only thing wrong with Jim Jarmusch’s sumptuous film Only Lovers Left Alive is the title. It baffles me why so many directors, or whoever picks the titles, insist on choosing such confusing ones. I like my film titles to tell me what I’m in for. Like Trainspotting, Million Dollar Baby and Salmon Fishing in The Yemen.
The film should of course be called THE Only Lovers Left Alive. See? Just the addition of the definite article and all becomes clear. Now it’s obvious that the lovers, Adam (Tom Hiddleston) and Eve (Tilda Swinton) are vampires who’ve been knocking about for thousands of years, outliving all the other great lovers, such as Byron and Shelley, to name but two of the people they name drop as dead friends. Well, maybe it’s not that obvious, but at least now it’s grammatically correct.

Adam and Eve have met everyone and done everything and as a result they’re permanently bored. They’re especially bored by ordinary folk, people like you and me, whom they sarcastically call “zombies”. They find us so tiring they can’t even be bothered to bite our necks anymore. You can tell they’re great lovers though, because they have almost nothing to say to each other and they prefer to live on different continents. The ideal relationship I’d say.
When he’s not sulking Adam is either on the prowl for clean blood or he’s hammering out some notes on rare guitars obtained for him by his gopher-cum-groupie Ian (Anton Yelchin). To pick up his blood he disguises himself in a doctor’s coat and some rather comical dark glasses and off he goes to the local hospital, as if he’s popping out to Asda. Not that anyone wears dark glasses in Asda. You have to go to Waitrose for that.
Eve meanwhile is wandering around the back streets of Tangiers looking for her blood dealer, Christopher Marlowe (John Hurt), the man who supposedly wrote the works attributed to Shakespeare. He’s quite tired and a bit fed up, probably because he never got any credit for the plays wot he wrote.
The only vampire still living it up is Eve’s stroppy sister Ava (Mia Wasikowska). She turns up and behaves like a teenager, embarrassing the family by laughing occasionally and by killing people.

If you want your vampires like Christopher Lee, with a cloak, a lack of conversation and a tendency to slurp on the necks of voluptuous virgins, you’ll be disappointed. If, however, you like them bohemian, languid and snobbish you’ll love this film. I did.

Dir: Jim Jarmusch, 2013

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