Only Lovers Left Alive (4 stars)

Only Lovers Left Alive

Tilda Swinton and Tom Hiddleston star in Jim Jarmusch's anti-vampire, vampire film

Jim Jarmusch has made a career out of subverting the norms of genre filmmaking – indeed, his work is a genre unto itself. After the divisive The Limits of Control, his latest film (which is best described as an anti-vampire vampire film) signals a thoroughly enjoyable return to form.

Set between the desolate ruins of Detroit and Tangier, it is at once contemporary and epic in scale. Although its premise is pleasingly outlandish, its exploration of how old souls survive in the 21st century is an interesting and ultimately philosophical one. The aptly named Adam (Tom Hiddleston) and Eve (Tilda Swinton) have witnessed the triumphs and failures of human history and survived any number of natural disasters, yet they feel increasingly unable to cope and find meaningful connection in the present day world populated by unthinking zombies (human beings).

Many of Jarmusch’s films focus on the figure of the outsider, of which Adam and Eve are exemplary, but this is perhaps his first film that deeply considers this as a social condition. The tenets of the director’s style (use of dead time, laconic and comic dialogue, deadpan performances) dovetail to satisfying effect here; Swinton and Hiddleston both give sublime performances as a pair of beautiful bohemians and they are matched every step of the way by John Hurt’s appearance as the playwright Christopher (Kit) Marlowe. Being a Jim Jarmusch film it is also, of course, literary, erudite and extremely cool.

Limited release from Fri 14 Feb.

Only Lovers Left Alive Trailer

Only Lovers Left Alive

  • 4 stars
  • 2013
  • UK / Germany / France / Cyprus / USA
  • 2h 3min
  • 15
  • Directed by: Jim Jarmusch
  • Written by: Jim Jarmusch
  • Cast: Tom Hiddleston, Tilda Swinton, Mia Wasikowska
  • UK release: 21 February 2014

Swinton and Hiddleston play two vampires who have been in love for ages (literally), in Jim Jarmusch's (Broken Flowers, Dead Man) first feature in four years.