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"Only Lovers Left Alive": As Close to What We Imagine a Doc About Tilda Swinton's Life Can Get 

Wednesday, Apr 16 2014

What a concept: vampire movie, as done by Jim Jarmusch. By turns groovy and morose, Only Lovers Left Alive could so easily be a goof, but for Jarmusch, aging now into an indie-film immortal, it's opportune — a mellow tract on the unworldly timelessness of fine taste. In Tom Hiddleston and Tilda Swinton he has a perfectly Jarmuschian pair of actors, each effortlessly lanky, weird, and wise. Here they're a long-married vampire couple called Adam and Eve, transiently separated to indulge hobbies in the shadowy nooks of Tangier and Detroit, but feeling ready to reunite. The impeccable casting extends to Anton Yelchin as Adam's obsequious rocker fanboy friend, Mia Wasikowska as Eve's troublesome kid sister, and John Hurt as (very) old pal Christopher Marlowe. (Jeffrey Wright, as a blood banker on the down-low, does less well.) This Adam and Eve also are a couple of name-droppers, prone to declaring their own private cultural who's who. Sometimes it plays as if written by a precocious college student with a shelf full of approved books he knows he really needs to read. It's not unfair to hope a movie about ageless beings would convey some actual life experience; Jarmusch tends instead to burrow into familiar subdued quirk and surface-level stylistics. "Cool" is the word that comes up a lot around him, in the sense of not trying too hard. There's also the cool that connotes lack of warmth. But the coup here is that in his view, vampirism as lethargic debauchery actually is rather romantic. These dopesick bloodsuckers really do love each other!

About The Author

Jonathan Kiefer

SF Weekly movie critic Jonathan Kiefer is on Twitter: @kieferama and of course @sfweeklyfilm.

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