WRITTEN BY: Jim Jarmusch
DIRECTED BY: Jim Jarmusch
STARRING: Tom Hiddleston, Tilda Swinton, Mia Wasikowska, Anton Yelchin
RATING: 3 stars
Christopher Marlowe is a vampire and he has a picture of William Shakespeare hanging above his bed. This is the kind of brilliantly hilarious alternative versions of literary and musical history you will see in Only Lovers Left Alive – and it works. The film suffers from a weak plot in which not much actually happens for the entire two-hour duration, but the characters are so engrossing that it can be forgiven to some extent. Yes, Only Lovers Left Alive is a vampire film, but there is hardly any time spent establishing the vampire rules for the film and not much typical vampire action at all, aside from some feedings. Essentially, it is a character study where the protagonists just happen to be vampires.
Adam (Tom Hiddlestob) is a vampire who also happens to be a talented musician resisting the idea of becoming a famed rock star. He broods at home with his old technology and artistry, only associating with his friend Ian (Anton Yelchin) who gets him all the odd things he needs, like a wooden bullet. Meanwhile, Adam's long-time lover Eve (Tilda Swinton) is living in Tangier with her beloved books. When Adam starts to feel lonely – and perhaps a little suicidal – from their separation, Eve decides to visit him. But when Eve's sister Ava (Mia Wasikowska) arrives unexpectedly, she causes the lovers more than a few headaches.
The always charismatic Hiddleston plays one of the most entertaining vampires on film. He is moody, self-loathing, artistic and intriguing. It is great to see a vampire character with interests other than feeding on humans. At first glance, it feels like Swinton is too old to play Hiddleston's love interest, but they actually have great chemistry. She is obviously an impressive actress too, so she adds gravitas to the film. Wasikowska's character is so bratty and she seems to have a lot of fun with the role. Yelchin provides a lot of laughs too during his awkward exchanges with Hiddleston.
Only Lovers Left Alive is a fascinating film. I just wish writer/director Jim Jarmusch could have included more in the plot to justify its length.