"Only Lovers Left Alive" Movie Review: 3 1/2 Stars
by Sheri Linden
With the YA swoon of "Twilight" safely in the rearview mirror, movie vampires get their mojo back in the sensuous dreamscape of "Only Lovers Left Alive," one of the strongest films yet from
A filmmaker with a deep affection for outsiders, Jarmusch sets his ode to the urbane undead -- and margin-dwelling artists -- in two ultra-poetic cities:
They're Adam and Eve, and theirs is a May-December relationship -- his 500 or so years to her several thousand. It's a marriage solid enough for them to live apart for years at a time, but when he needs her, she goes to him in
A broody gent in the Romantic mold and a reclusive musician who disdains fame, Adam composes potent dirges in a decaying mansion that he's filling with vintage electric guitars and other collectibles of the analog age, a project aided by a sweet, resourceful young guy (
It's disappointing at first that Eve doesn't get to create music or write books like the male vampires, but it turns out that her art is something perhaps rarer: living. Eve knows, in the depths of her ancient soul, how to enjoy life, whether jonesing for hemoglobin or playing chess. The way she lifts her despondent husband is something to behold -- particularly when she pulls him from his velvet sofa and they dance to the R&B single "Trapped by a Thing Called Love." It's an exquisitely tender, clothes-on erotic moment. It's also one of several instances of pitch-perfect music heard within the action of the movie, supplementing the plangent score by
Having moved beyond the old ways, Adam, Eve and Marlowe bare their fangs only to smile. They sip their O-negative from aperitif glasses and procure it from medical professionals, among them a hospital lab technician played by
The finely honed system, along with Adam and Eve's peace, is threatened with the arrival of her obnoxious little sister (a giddily gauche Mia Wasikowska).
The movie's dry humor suits the characters, but its sly literary allusions threaten to tip into the self-congratulatory. A wall of photographic portraits (among them Poe, Twain, Wilde and
But those are quibbles. The unhurried film is a beauty.
Shooting digitally -- a first for Jarmusch and a paradox for a movie that so ardently celebrates the artisanal -- cinematographer
MPAA rating: R (for language and brief nudity). Running time: 1:42.
"Only Lovers Left Alive" Movie Trailer
Set against the romantic desolation of Detroit and Tangier, an underground musician, deeply depressed by the direction of human activities, reunites with his resilient and enigmatic lover. Their love story has already endured several centuries at least, but their debauched idyll is soon disrupted by her wild and uncontrollable younger sister. Can these wise but fragile outsiders continue to survive as the modern world collapses around them?