Socialist Worker

Only lovers left alive sees ancient vampires after meaning in a decaying world

Jim Jarmusch's latest movie reviewed by Ken Olende

Issue No. 2391

Tom Hiddleston

Tom Hiddleston as Adam

Adam (Tom Hiddleston) is tired of his existence. He lives as a recluse in the rotting corpse of post-industrial Detroit. 

Life seems pointless in a world that has abandoned the explosive creativity of 1968. His (very) long-term companion Eve (Tilda Swinton) lives in Tangiers. She finds existence constantly fascinating, relishing every new experience and discovery.

The two are vampires who measure out their lives in centuries.

This is a romance, but  not bathed in fashionable gore. The simple plot slowly develops around the issue of whether life in the 21st century is irredeemably hollow. 

These lovers have had the time to consider human achievement and what it means.

Eve celebrates age, instantly putting a date on the objects she encounters. 

Adam was a rock star in the 1960s and feels that everything since is a shallow echo of the creativity and idealism of the time.

The loss is reflected not just in the way he collects pre-digital recording equipment, but the loss of the US’s musical and industrial base in Detroit. 

Once it was motor town, or Motown, where cars and soul music came from. Now the vampires drive through endless streets of abandoned homes and factories.

The vampires have great difficulty finding blood that is not full of pollutants that will make them waste away and die in a way that echoes AIDS.

Jarmusch’s film returns to themes he has explored over the years—companionship, idealism and respect for death. 

It is also very funny and jammed with pop-cultural references.



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Article information

Wed 19 Feb 2014, 10:49 GMT
Issue No. 2391
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