Only Lovers Left Alive, film review: Jarmusch's creatures of the night have real bite

(15) Jim Jarmusch, 123 mins Starring: Tilda Swinton, Tom Hiddleston, Mia Wasikowska, John Hurt, Anton Yelchin

Geoffrey Macnab
Thursday 20 February 2014 23:15
Dead cool: Tilda Swinton and Tom Hiddleston in ‘Only Lovers Left Alive’
Dead cool: Tilda Swinton and Tom Hiddleston in ‘Only Lovers Left Alive’

Jim Jarmusch's wonderfully arch and stylish 21st-century vampire movie owes as much to 1980s indie music and film culture as it does to Bram Stoker.

The irony, which the film seems very aware of, is that film-makers from that era, such as Jarmusch himself, are as much out of time as the vampire protagonists here. (You can't help noticing that the pale-skinned vampire lovers played by Tom Hiddleston and Tilda Swinton dress remarkably similarly to the characters in Jarmusch's 1980s films, who invariably also preferred night-time to the daylight.)

The film has a grungy, pre-digital aesthetic. In the world shown here, Gibson guitars and 45rpms matter much more than any new technology.

Hiddleston and Swinton excel as the very refined bloodsuckers, conveying a sense of world-weariness and disillusionment about the behaviour of the "zombie" humans without ever becoming remotely wearisome themselves.

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