Only lovers left alive (film)


I avoided this film at the film festival as it was fronted as a “vampire film” and I wanted to give a wide berth between myself and a genre at-the-time associated with the Twilight fanfare. However, to label this as a vampire film is to grossly undermine the mastery and style of Jim Jarmusch.


The story is essentially about the lives of two lovers. The film takes you on a dream-like journey, reminiscent of Wong Kar-Wai’s In the Mood for Love with dark and colourful surrounding and light, and a pacey soundtrack. Vampires have eternal life, unless killed with a stake to the heart. This concept of eternity introduces spiritual, perhaps, Buddhist perspectives. The question the film asks is: what is the best way to live through eternity?

The theme of universality is also reflected in the names of the lovers; Adam and Eve (Tom Hiddleston and Tilda Swinton). For Eve, she uses her time to learn and experience the continuously changing world, to enjoy and savour what is good and positive. On the other hand, Adam is a bit depressed. He dedicates his time to creating music but is unsatisfied with the way it’s received by humans (whom he calls zombies). Perhaps there is a dash of cynicism towards the ego-centric culture of the entertainment industry. At one time, Eve gently reminds him that it’s not all about this self-obsession of his and that there is lots to enjoy about the world.

Adam and Eve’s lives are far removed from the carnal myths of the vampires of the ancient times. They discuss writings, philosophy and music: knowledge going back for centuries. In the 21st century, vampires no longer rely on hunting and killing humans; their blood supplies come from trusted organic sources. Sounds familiar?

Jim Jarmusch is not one to advocate for such Zen like existence though; he is more an appreciator of the rawness of life. The couple’s ultra-sophisticated existence is shaken when Eve’s nihilistic sister couldn’t help herself and kills Adam’s human assistant and gorges herself with his blood. She is promptly thrown out and the lovers go back to their serene existence. Through this episode, the viewers realise how Adam and Eve feel about their fundamental vampire nature; as something monstrous. The lovers then face their greatest challenge ever when they lose their blood supplier and they may have to hunt on their own. Will they succumb to the will of their nature or will they serenely fade away?

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