Watching "Only Lovers Left Alive" is like pulling out a used book and smelling its old musk as you flip through its pages. It is like watching the needle as it touches down upon the grooves of a vinyl record and hearing the sounds that were recorded onto it long ago now hitting your ears and setting off a wave of emotions within you. It is like reading a book written before your time whose words are just as relevant as the day they were written. Or maybe "Only Lovers Left Alive" is the cranky old man who decries anything new and refuses to change.
Let's go back to the old books for a minute though. Old books are what I found myself flipping through after the screening of "Only Lovers Left Alive" that I attended. Well, some of the books I looked through were new, but mostly I was drawn to those written before I was born. These were books, some fiction, but mostly non, that had stood the test of time. There were truths to these works, these thoughts turned into words on the page, that could not be denied to me. So too are there truths in "Only Lovers Left Alive".
"Only Lovers Left Alive" is the "old soul" of cinema. It may technically be a new movie, but it feels like a film straight from the past. I wouldn't say that this film goes too far back in its age, but more to around the time of the late 80s or early 90s which is the time in which I believe its director, Jim Jarmusch, was in his movie-making prime. "Only Lovers Left Alive" has the same relaxed and comical nature that the classic Jim Jarmusch films all have.
It is not just the movie itself which is an old soul, but the characters in it as well. At least, the main character of Adam, played by Tom Hiddleston, certainly is. Adam is the kind of person that would put his head down and sigh at the mere mention of anything new. He is a man who wishes he was living in the past. The thing is that Adam has lived in the past. You see, Adam is practically immortal. He is, after all, a vampire.
Adam is a vampire who has grown so tired of the world in its modern state that he is on the verge of finally exiting it by ending his life. Perhaps the only hope left for him lies in his wife, Eve, played by Tilda Swinton. Adam and Eve, the first lovers, and in Adam's mind, the last. Tilda Swinton and Tom Hiddleston have an excellent chemistry in this movie that makes them highly believable as ages-old lovers. Eve is, for the most part, upbeat, but Adam is pure brood. Tom Hiddleston here is what would be the perfect portrayal of Dream or Morpheus or whichever name you wish to call him from the series of comics written by Neil Gaiman known as "The Sandman". Tom Hiddleston has, like the rest of the movie, that 80s and early 90s alternative rock, goth, and grunge vibe that is so infused in those comics.
The character of Adam and the movie "Only Lovers Left Alive" are both old souls. Like the old works of literature or music or movies that have stood the test of time, the themes of "Only Lovers Left Alive" are still relevant. The style of the movie is still cool. The thoughts of Adam are still relate-able. Like Adam, "Only Lovers Left Alive" may not tread too much new ground, but there is something to its old-fashioned heart.
"Only Lovers Left Alive" proves that not all old things need to be updated. Some things that were fine in the past are still just as fine now and as long as more works of art like this are made, those things will never die. Vampires, in a sense, are immortal and so are the styles and themes of the classic works of art. More importantly, the existence of this movie and the crowd that came out to see it at the screening I went to, prove that Adam is not alone. The lovers are still out there and will always have a place in this world.