'Only Lovers Left Alive' review: Immortality can be a drag

'Only Lovers Left Alive'

'Only Lovers Left Alive' (Sandro Kopp / / April 14, 2014)

*** (out of four)

Ignoring the fact that very little happens in a lot of those movies, “Twilight” fans will be bored with “Only Lovers Left Alive.” The vampire story stars Tilda Swinton (“We Need to Talk About Kevin”) and Tom Hiddleston (“Thor”) and is written/directed by Jim Jarmusch (“Coffee and Cigarettes”), which should answer the question: “Why might I be bored?”

To call it a thriller would be a stretch; to call it a drama would be generous. Slowly and sometimes intoxicatingly, Jarmusch uses immortal blood-suckers as the setup for a darkly comic, sad and romantic story of life’s disappointments and redemptions.

For hazy reasons, married vamps Eve (Swinton), all stringy white hair and blank eyes, and Adam (Hiddleston), a gloomy-looking fan of indoor sunglasses, live thousands of miles apart—she in Tangier, Morocco, and he in the ghost town of Detroit. Eve can see her husband’s malaise during a FaceTime chat—yes, Eve has an iPhone, but Jarmusch doesn’t play this for laughs—and travels to his cluttered apartment, where he records grim music he hides from an apparently significant fanbase. When Eve’s unreliable sister Eva (Mia Wasikowska of another good vampire movie, “Stoker”) arrives and mentions she’s been living in L.A., Adam grumbles, “Great. Zombie central.” Not real zombies, mind you; he has grown exhausted by human fear and inaction and even secures a wooden bullet, considering ending his endless suffering.

Jarmusch typically keeps things measured, and “Only Lovers Left Alive” doesn’t really have 123 minutes of movie in it. Yet he has fun shooting Adam and Eve eating O-negative popsicles and savoring a nice glass of the red stuff, all while mourning a world that, from a certain perspective, has had the life sucked out of it. When Eve talks to Adam, puts on music and dances with him, the moment’s a simple, romantic gesture of connection. The type of beings they are has nothing to do with it.

If that were the movie’s only viewpoint, it would be a bummer. In fact, there’s a sweetness to it, as if love is the only thing that matters, even if it has the power to both save and ruin us.

Watch Matt review the week's big new movies Fridays at noon on NBC.

mpais@tribune.com

 

Want more? Discuss this article and others on RedEye's Facebook page.

 

CHICAGO

More