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Only Lovers left Alive

Only Lovers left Alive

Deutschland/Großbritannien/Frankreich 2013 - with Tom Hiddleston, Tilda Swinton, John Hurt, Mia Wasikowska, Anton Yelchin ...

The Frankfurt-Tipp rating:

Movie info

Original title:Only Lovers left Alive
Genre:Drama, Mystery
Direction:Jim Jarmusch
Cinema release:25.12.2013
Production country:Deutschland/Großbritannien/Frankreich 2013
Running time:Approx. 123 min.
Rated:Age 12+

Adam (Tom Hiddleston) is a gifted underground musician who hides himself completely from the public eye and has become something of a myth to his fans as a result. But even though he is admired and loved for his talent, Adam cannot reciprocate these feelings. Modern society and its self-destructive, egotistical behavior just make him sick. He wants to put an end to his existence. That's not so easy, though, because Adam is a vampire blessed with immortality. Just when he seems to have found the perfect solution to this obstacle, the love of his life, Eve (Tilda Swinton), who has sensed Adam's unhappiness thousands of miles away in Kasbah of Tangier, suddenly shows up. She wants to help him brave the demise of the world he once loved so much. But when Eve's sister Ava (Mia Wasikowska) shows up and permanently disrupts the fragile idyll of the two lovers, all hope for a new lease on life seems permanently lost.

With Only Lovers left Alive, cult director Jim Jarmusch delivers a vampire film of a somewhat different kind. One looks for the typical bloodsucker clichés here in vain. Rather, Jarmusch uses the immortality of his characters as a symbolization of an idealized past. Their dependence on clean blood, which proves to be very difficult to organize, could be understood as an allegory for the depravity of society. So it is hardly surprising that Adam lives in Detroit, of all places, a city that stands for the economic decline of the USA like no other. There, where poverty, superficiality and corruption reign, hardly anything reminds the vampire of the good old days. Of the time when art still mattered, when music could change the world. In a world where apps do the composing and where anyone can be a star for 15 minutes even if there is no talent whatsoever, in a world ruled by pleasure-seeking and selfishness, he just doesn't want to live anymore.

This is as pessimistic as it sounds. The film, despite a few humorous moments of the more morbid kind, is suffused with a melancholy that is underscored by the depressed acting of Tom Hiddleston and the pale, elegiac appearance of Tilda Swinton. The story itself is rather simple and hardly provides enough material for a two-hour movie. And so it's no wonder that despite some outstanding moments the single scenes drag on tamer than thick blood. Even the performances of John Hurt in his best Helge Schneider memorial look and a delightfully over-the-top Mia Wasikowska do little to change that.

However, productions of the simple, crowd-pleasing kind have never been Jim Jarmusch's style. He stays true to his cranky, unwieldy style again here, while opening himself up to the mainstream at least a smidge more than he did in his last effort, The Limits of Control. That doesn't mean that Only Lovers left Alive is ordinary in any way. It's just that there are individual scenes that you can thoroughly enjoy even if you otherwise find Jarmusch's work difficult to get along with.

What is great art for some is just cultivated boredom for others. Both opinions are absolutely justified with such an unadapted work. The fact that you can't do anything with this film doesn't necessarily mean that you didn't understand it - an assumption that is unfortunately made far too often by self-proclaimed cineastes when discussing films like this. But whether or not you find a way into this vampire tale, one thing is undeniable: the imagery and symbolism Jarmusch employs here is truly magnificent and fascinating. The film has a very own atmosphere, by which one is caught even if otherwise only boredom spreads.

Who could do little with the films of Jim Jarmusch so far, will not become a fan of the filmmaker even now. His style is just too special for that. But if you appreciate him just for that and want to see what an inappropriate director like Jarmusch does with the vampire myth, you shouldn't miss Only Lovers left Alive!

An article by Frankfurt-Tipp


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  • Only Lovers left Alive
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  • Only Lovers left Alive
Cinema trailer for the movie "Only Lovers left Alive (Deutschland/Großbritannien/Frankreich 2013)"
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