Only Lovers Left Alive

With the YA swoon of "Twilight" safely in the rearview mirror, movie vampires get their mojo back in the sensuous dreamscape of "Only Lovers Left Alive," one of the strongest films yet from Jim Jarmusch.

A filmmaker with a deep affection for outsiders, Jarmusch sets his ode to the urbane undead — and margin-dwelling artists — in two ultra-poetic cities: Detroit, a vision of trampled grandeur on the cusp of rebirth, and worldly Tangier, its alleyways alive with the murmur of illicit doings. And in Tom Hiddleston and Tilda Swinton, Jarmusch has two impossibly elegant outsiders.

They're Adam and Eve, and theirs is a May-December relationship — his 500 or so years to her several thousand. It's a marriage solid enough for them to live apart for years at a time, but when he needs her, she goes to him in Detroit, leaving the Moroccan idyll.

A broody gent in the Romantic mold and a reclusive musician who disdains fame, Adam composes potent dirges in a decaying mansion that he's filling with vintage electric guitars and other collectibles of the analog age, a project aided by a sweet, resourceful young guy and oodles of cash. Lacking Eve's long view of the world's ups and downs, Adam's in despair over the way "zombies" — a.k.a. humans — have botched things up.

Eve knows, in the depths of her ancient soul, how to enjoy life, whether jonesing for hemoglobin or playing chess. The way she lifts her despondent husband is something to behold — particularly when she pulls him from his velvet sofa and they dance. It's an exquisitely tender, clothes-on erotic moment. It's also one of several instances of pitch-perfect music heard within the action of the movie.

Having moved beyond the old ways, Adam and Eve bare their fangs only to smile. They sip their O-negative from aperitif glasses and procure it from medical professionals, among them a hospital lab technician played by Jeffrey Wright. The finely honed system, along with Adam and Eve's peace, is threatened with the arrival of her obnoxious little sister.

The movie's dry humor suits the characters. The unhurried film is a beauty. Shooting digitally — a first for Jarmusch and a paradox for a movie that so ardently celebrates the artisanal. The titular lovers are beauties too, soulful and captivating. Swinton and Hiddleston make their love story one for the ages.


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