Movie Review: “Only Lovers Left Alive” – Immortally Timeless

Written by Rachel Ganzewinkel January 18, 2015

jarmusch stillshot

Tilda Swinton and Tom Hiddleston star in Jim Jarmusch’s movie that took way too long to get to Canada – “Only Lovers Left Alive”. Swinton is the Eve to Hiddleston’s Adam in this tale of love that spans the centuries. But their time together gets disrupted by Ava (Mia Wasikowska), Eve’s sister, who’s a bundle of wild, pre-adolescent- level energy.

Also they’re vampires.

“How can you’ve lived so long and still not get it?”

“Only Lovers Left Alive” is a stunning show of beautiful people in beautiful (and beautifully tragic) places. Swinton and Hiddleston are superb as a couple who’ve been married since the 1800’s. Their sensually casual relationship is incredibly touching and sweet. They know each other so intimately and understand the other so completely that watching them chill out and lay around in robes (or “dressing gowns” to the highfalutin 19th century crowd), and indulge in music, books, art, and chess, it can seem that you’re simply a voyeur to this vampire couple who are just going about their existence.

So, yeah, that vampire thing. This is the most un-vampire, vampire movie. It’s a wonderful palate cleanser from the supernatural, Twilight-ish nonsense that’s prevailed for the last little while. The subtle hints to ancient vampire lore is a nice break from the sparkling, love-triangle-having vampires of late. Adam and Eve invite each other through doorways, wear gloves and sunglasses out of doors, and the references to figures of the past, such as Byron, Shelley, and the still-living Christopher Marlowe (John Hurt), makes the vampiric world meld so deeply into our own mortal one. The running joke involving Marlowe and Shakespeare is also certain to tickle those literary-types’ fancy.

jarmusch only lovers

“That certainly was visual.”

Swinton and Hiddleston are two superb actors who simply need to be in more movies; they could make even bad movies fantastic through their visceral onscreen presences and their superhuman-level ability to have chemistry with absolutely anyone. Their talent, their fantastic faces, and the incredible music only add to the intense cool-ness of this movie. You will feel incredibly…mortal…after hearing these vampires talk about us “zombies” as wasteful, ignorant creatures. Seeing the thriving and beautiful ancient city of Tangiers against the crumbling, once-bustling metropolis that is Detroit is achingly beautiful and mind-opening. The idealistic consumerism of Western culture has led to the image of urban decay it now is. It stands as the place where Adam can make his underground music and where Ava finds Adam and Eve, disrupting their time alone. It is marked as a place where only wild chaos, and crushing isolation, exists. Tangiers, the adaptable city not taken in by commodity, is the reprieve and return to a life in which vampires seem to have more outward freedom – existing without their sunglasses in human spaces.

Adam and Eve have seen it all. They have seen the patterns humanity has played over again and again, and they’re lack of belief about peoples’ inability to look after ourselves (going so far as to even contaminate our own blood) serves as a scolding. Adam and Eve are these immortal beings who understand, and mortal humanity is the ignorant, wasteful teenager who doesn’t quite understand the impact it has on others.┬áIt’s basically Jarmusch’s artful intervention telling humanity to get it together.

swinton and hiddleston only lovers

“This self obsession is a waste of living”

This movie is pretty plot-less. It is instead a foray into an ancient couple’s existence. A love that has truly stood the test of time, their promise of “til death” pushing the limit of human understanding. Adam and Eve have figured out how to make love last. They have different lives, different interests, but come together, enjoy each other, and talk. Their hang outs are what real love is made of. The timelessness of their love and their lives, and the timely issues these vampires must face, makes for a lovely commentary about how this ancient couple is the kind of humanity we wish we could be (ageless and timeless – like Tangiers and Tilda Swinton for that matter) and the reality of our harmful, human nature (crumbling, toxic Detroit). These immortal vampires are the kind of people – loving, tender, kind, and thoughtful – we all wish we could be.


This is one of the most stylish, sensual, and simply stunning movies I have seen for quite some time. It’s a wholly subjective opinion, but this is a movie you simply could not tire of after multiple viewings. It’s filled with sensational performances by everyone, the soundtrack is one of the coolest things anyone’s ears could ever have the privilege of hearing, and the visual (and emotional) atmosphere of the movie is just so intoxicating-ly beautiful you’ll want to experience it night after night. It’s as delicious as the “pure stuff” that keeps these lovers alive.

My Rating: 9.5/10

only lovers poster

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About Rachel Ganzewinkel

Rachel loves movies and writing and has found the perfect amalgamation in writing movie reviews for We Eat Films. In between movie watching and the real-life world of work, she enjoys tea, reading, writing, and wearing over-size sweaters (while occassionally doing some of these simultaneously).

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