The prospect of seeing Tom Hiddleston play a vampire might bring fanciful ideas of a sexy stalker luring prey with a devilish glint in those perfect green eyes; an authority on life and death that seduces willing victims; or action, mystery and sensuality that endears sufferers and onlookers alike.
Though there is plenty of creamy flesh and some spilled blood, “Only Lovers Left Alive” is a very Jarmuschian look at the lifecycle of a vampire on earth, of history and art and ultimately of the killing effects man has on the very planet bestowed to him.
Hiddleston portrays Adam, a musician living in solitude and loneliness. His long years have culminated into a deep morbidity and we meet him in the moments when he contemplates ending it all.
His wife, Eve (Tilda Swinton), travels by night from Tangiers to America to rescue him from his own boredom. It is her love, her careful attention that springs him from the edge.
In the end, “Only Lovers Left Alive” is less a vampire flick and more a love note to time and how love is its saving grace.
There is very little action. No hyper-drive vampire grandeur. This is a film that lives in its darkness, the loss of hopefulness. Through natural color palettes and long, sweeping camera shots it becomes obvious that this is not a vampire movie, but a legend of two lovers surviving time.
Because of it vampirism becomes a device solely to travel through time and to discuss its impact on living and how the living impact existence, both physical and spiritual.
The greatest way vampirism is used as a tool is to revisit the conversation on the true identity of William Shakespeare. Many scholars and Shakespeare fans have, for generations, debated whether or not the Stratford was truly the author responsible for that generous body of work. Was the Stratford the one accountable for defining both an era and world theater for decades to come?
“Only Lovers Left Alive” director Jim Jarmusch uses vampirism as an opportunity to refute the popular belief, to assert his personal conviction and to show love for his character through Eve’s undying adoration.
The elements at play prove to be bookishly interesting. But if the expectation is a traditional, yet deep vampire tale, these elements are not cinematic and become somewhat snooze worthy.
The most rousing aspect of the movie is the soundtrack, which juxtaposed to the slowness by which the characters move through their lengthy lives, becomes a bit out of place (though necessary to bring any life to a movie that is equally as dead as its main characters).
Hiddleston and Swinton are the sunshine in the gloominess of “Lovers”. Swinton’s offbeat choices and ultra-fair appearance is made for this role. Coupled with Hiddleston and his classical approach along with the theories on time & love and even art & history “Lovers” becomes a symphony.