Only Lovers Left Alive

Adam and Eve are a pair of vampire lovers. Though they have survived centuries together, Adam (Tom Hiddleston) has grown despondent, ever distraught by the state of the world and how it’s being ruined by “zombies” (aka, non-vampire folk). Once Eve (Tilda Swinton) re-enters his life, she convinces him to relish in the wonders and beauty the world has to offer. However, their content home-life is interrupted once Eve’s sister Ava (Mia Wasikowska) pays a visit.

Pictured: Detroit

Pictured: Detroit

Like all Jarmusch films, the crux of the story is in the characters themselves. By simply looking at our lovers, we can easily read their interests: Eve adores the exotic, as well as art an literature, whereas Adam dwells in a dilapidated home surrounded with musical instruments and all sorts of gadgetry. Furthermore, Eve resides in Tangiers while Adam prefers Detroit – no doubt a commentary on America’s fallen empire (especially when they visit the Michigan Theatre).

When together they make a perfect yin-yang (possibly represented by their hair-color), and as a couple they complete each other.

Essentially these two are the movie – which is why it’s so jarring when Ava comes into the picture.

It's a shame, I really like Mia.

I never thought I would want to slap Mia Wasikowska. Good job Jarmusch.

It’s clear by Adam’s, erm,  lack of enthusiasm, that Ava is not welcome in his house. Wasikowska plays this role to a tee, but sadly doesn’t offer much else. Ava is simply the most loathe-able, degenerate teenager in existence.  Of course, using the phrase “teenager” loosely. Granted I could just be an old curmudgeon like Adam, but damn is she annoying.

I would actually love to know her story, like when did she become a vampire and why? Why don’t we ever learn what she did to piss off Adam to begin with? Also why didn’t he take advantage of a certain spoilery plot-point? That would had made things a lot easier.

At the same time, I suppose focusing more on the vampire mythology would remove from the romantic narrative – though if I’ve learned anything while writing about Her, I tend to get distracted by origins (or lack thereof). I need to remind myself that this isn’t  a film about vampires, but of lovers, and what it means to only have each other. That’s sweet and all, but I feel as if the overall tale was lacking – Ava’s intrusion is really the only event that occurs, but as soon as she’s there you want her gone.

Overall, Jarmusch’s staple tonality and character focus is certainly there, but I feel as if the romance angle was a bit of a one-trick pony. Come for the characters and atmosphere, but stay for the music.

Final Grade: B

About reelgirl

Film lover, kitsch enthusiast, and all around neat gal. You can read what I'm up to at Reel Girl Reviews!

Posted on April 20, 2014, in Review and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. ‘Ava is simply the most loathe-able, degenerate teenager in existence.’
    Only because you didn’t know me, back in the day. But seriously…
    This has just arrived or is arriving soon here in Perth. I was going to pass, but the idea of a vampire playing the guitar grabs my interest.
    Apart from Lestat who became some sort of uber-Bowie with fangs – or was he an uber-Bieber? – there is not much in the vampire literature about what they DO with their immortality. They don’t write, they don’t paint – ffs, just staying out of the sun and waiting for the next meal to walk in must get boring pretty quick. And feeling superior to humans would be a thrill for only so long. After a decade or two it must sour into plain old envy.

  2. He had a Trent Reznor look about him with sort of this Bowie/Jack White (yay Detroit) influence. I actually really liked his music. Honestly when it comes to rock star vampires, Suck did a great job. Adam really reminded me of Dimitri Coats’ character, Queeny (who mentions having worked on a song for the past 500 years or something to that effect – that’s what I’d work on with immortality, if not work on a cure for cancer or something). They never mention where they get all that money though.

    Speaking of uber-Bowie with fangs, I still haven’t seen The Hunger, though I’d very much like to get my hands on it.

    • Vampire Nikki working on a cure for cancer… that just makes me go all puppies and butterflies inside.

      • D’aw. Honestly I’d probably take the first hundred years dicking around and finding new ways to make money for the research.

  3. All these months later I can finally say I’ve seen it. And it was…
    Well, it’s a good antidote to the Twilight movies. It handles the vampire lifestyle with much more intelligence. It moves at a much slower pace too. If OLLA was half an hour shorter I’d put it on the watch-again list; at two hours though I don’t think I’d be interested.
    Tom Hiddleston was great. I didn’t see a trace of Loki in Adam. Tilda Swinton just keeps turning up in the most bizarre roles and she must be at an age now where most actresses are sliding into a long-term spot in television. Mia W was exactly the annoying little shit you said she was and why Adam didn’t deal with her with the means at his disposal is a complete mystery.
    Special acknowledgment should also be paid to the city of Detroit itself. After paying a few visits to the Decomposing Detroit site earlier this year, OLLA managed to make the Motor City look even more post-apocalyptic than that.

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