Adam (Tom Hiddleston) and Eve (Tilda Swinton) are vampires, and lovers.
What, you expect more than that? Ugh. Fine!
For all intents and purposes, there’s nothing particularly new about the story of Only Lovers Left Alive. Vampires are real, they live in secret, something threatens the status quo…blah, blah blah. There’s nothing really new to say, because, let’s be honest: this movie is all about the cast. As it should be.
Tom Hiddleston easily fits the role of the broody, world-weary musician, who’s lost his passion for life; while Tilda Swinton is, as always, the preternatural embodiment of an alien beauty in human form. It’s impossible not to be drawn in by their performances, despite the deliberately slow pace of most of the movie.
It would also be impossible not to recognise that the music in this movie is a character in its own right; as is the scenery, with its studied sense of decrepit eclecticism. This is a world barely held together by a love and appreciation for an aesthetic of broken down creativity.
Mia Wasikowska does a great job as the annoyingly bratty little sister, who lacks the refinement of her older counterparts and has some impulse control issues. However, her character does seem to be unfortunately underutilised, particularly given the time spent flagging her arrival. Her involvement in the story lacks the impact that it was clearly meant to; as does that of Anton Yelchin (Ian), whose real story I can only assume is sitting on an editor’s floor, somewhere.
Still, this is a relatively minor quibble.
If you’re after action and excitement, then this is not the movie for you. Like its musical palette, Only Lovers Left Alive is pretty mellow, driven almost entirely by Hiddleston and Swinton. Their vampirism is used more for its quality of longevity – and the ability this has given them to influence the world of humans (or “zombies,” as they’re not so lovingly referred to) – than because it has anything to do with blood-drinking (even though this plays its part). It’s a movie about culture, not monsters.
My recommendation? Be prepared for a mellow, two hour-long feast of music, and Tilda Swinton (and others).