14A, 123 minutes
Tilda Swinton, Tom Hiddleston, Mia Wasikowska
The brilliance of Jim Jarmusch’s Only Lovers Left Alive lies in what it doesn’t do, as much as what it does. In a marketplace flush with vampire movies, Jarmusch isn’t interested in supernatural horror, romantic mythology, or eternal love as the ultimate expression of teenage infatuation. Though the film manifests a deep undercurrent of feeling in subtle, surprising ways, it isn’t florid in its emotions or its violence, and the ambience is thick with ennui more than mortal threat. What primarily interests Jarmusch about vampires is the basic fact that they’ve been around so long: Over ageless centuries, they’ve gained wisdom and perspective on history, literature, and culture that ordinary humans can’t by nature achieve. They’ve also developed the odd habits and obsessions of people who have lived on their own for a long time, like college townies who haven’t gotten out of the habit of pulling all-nighters and sleeping the day away. Only Lovers Left Alive accomplishes the neat trick of reinventing a moribund genre as a distinctly Jarmuschian hangout movie.
Scott Tobias, The Dissolve