August 20, 2014

Film: Only Lovers Haven’t a Care in the World

 

Eschewing plot for mood, Jim Jarmusch makes a hypnotic mess.

Finally, a film that does vampires right. Or, better yet, for adults. Twihards take note. This is how you do brooding.

PHOTO BY SANDRO KOPP

Film: <i>Only Lovers</i> Haven’t a Care in the World

Left to right: Tom Hiddleston as Adam and Tilda Swinton as Eve in Only Lovers Left Alive from Sony Pictures Classics.

Jim Jarmusch’s latest, Only Lovers Left Alive, is about vampires only because the main characters happen to be vampires.

Adam (Tom Hiddleston) and Eve (Tilda Swinton) have been lovers for centuries. After Adam’s contemplation of suicide, Eve leaves her home in Tangier to be by his side. Adam and Eve’s precarious footing is further threatened by the uninvited arrival of Eve’s carefree and uncontrollable little sister, Ava (Mia Wasikowska).

Considering there is no straight-ahead point-A-to-Point-B plot, the director doesn’t stray from his niche, focusing more on mood, metaphor and theme. This is not a problem since Jarmusch has a loaded cast to play with.

The yin and yang of Hiddleston and Swinton is magnetic.

Brooding and contemplative, the combination of old soul wisdom and young lust is alluring. Driving through the suburban streets of Detroit doesn’t sound as cinematically appealing until you hear the duo wax poetically about life and its cyclical motion. The dialogue can sound a little like a Rust Cohle outtake from "True Detective," but while Matthew McConaughey sounds crazy, Swinton and Hiddleston make it smolder. It’s good to see Wasikowska stretch out and play something less subdued as she plays an excellent whirling dervish of youth next.

If you focus too much on the ambience, you just might miss the commentary Jarmusch deftly inserts. The vampire serves as resonant metaphor for love and the world we live in. The past is considered common knowledge while most view the present for what it is as something inherently individualistic. However, if you’re outside that circle (as vampires are), the past and present become one and the same with only love remaining eternal.

Driven by sensual photography, trance-like music and gallows humor, Only Lovers Left Alive is a meditation on the mysteries of everlasting love.