Only Lovers Left Alive

April 29, 2014 at 10:38 am | Posted in 2014 | 1 Comment
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In our current YA obsessed movie industry, it is so refreshing to get a thoroughly grown-up take on a classic trope.  “Only Lovers Left Alive” is the anti-“Twilight” and I couldn’t have been more delighted. Director Jim Jarmusch (“Ghost Dog,” “Night on Earth,” “Broken Flowers”) has an eye for the odd, vulnerable, sensitive and broken person and knows how to draw those performances from his actors. Here, his favorite recent muse, Tilda Swinton (“Orlando,” “The Chronicles of Narnia,” “The Grand Budapest Hotel”) is perfectly cast as an ancient vampire living in Tangiers.  Her otherworldly beauty and serene expressions fit the character perfectly. She’s forced to rush to Detroit to be with her husband (Tom Hiddleston of “Thor” and “Avengers” fame) who is once again contemplating suicide. Living for eternity does eventually get boring. The film delves deep into ennui, depression and lethargy, using the vampires as a metaphor for much of our modern experience. Together they discuss the zombies (that would be us: mindless, living mortals) and the ways we are self-destructing. The film is pervaded by a bleak, listless mood that is beautifully matched by the desolate streets of Detroit.  One of Jarmusch’s most brilliant moves was to compare dead, vacant Detroit to lively, teaming Tangiers, making subtle commentary about the young and old, the present and the past.  The ruins of Detroit make a stunning and haunting backdrop for this dreamy film with it’s post-apocalyptic vibe.  More so than any other Jarmusch film I can think of (except maybe the gorgeous black and white of “Coffee and Cigarettes”), this movie is imbued with such deep mood through it’s lighting.  Long shadows and strips of pale color imbue every scene: some are pale blue or pink or light yellow or burnt orange but all add to the mood of desolation and emptiness.  These are isolated people and every bit of the scenery (from lighting to color to backdrop) add to the sense of loneliness.  Add to this a stunning soundtrack, written by Jarmusch himself (that sounds part requiem, part German techno, part North African with a dash of Joy Division), and the mood is complete.  From beginning to end, this was a lush, clever, wry and biting (sorry, couldn’t help it) antidote to the cynical sanitizing of the modern vampire story.

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  1. […] Only Lovers Left Alive […]


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