'Only Lovers Left Alive' is a languorous vampire tale

'Lovers' stars Tom Hiddleston and Tilda Swinton as two vampires.

Sony Pictures Classics
Tom Hiddleston as Adam and Tilda Swinton as Eve in 'Only Lovers Left Alive.'

With “Only Lovers Left Alive,” Jim Jarmusch has made a vampire movie, but, as you might expect, not just any old vampire movie. “Twilight” fans will not be amused, but Jarmusch’s usual coterie of art-film followers will likely find the movie his best in years.

I’ve always been partial to Jarmusch’s cooled-out slow-burn lyricism, maybe because, compared with the freneticism of most movies these days, his languor is a tonic. In “Only Lovers Left Alive,” Tom Hiddleston and Tilda Swinton play characters named Adam and Eve, who have perpetuated the longest love affair in the world. Somnolent Adam has been holed up in Detroit playing vinyl oldies and collecting vintage guitars; Eve has been traipsing through Tangier, where her best friend, Christopher Marlowe (John Hurt), has access to a diminishing supply of pure blood.

The conceit here is that the human blood supply has become so contaminated that, well, what’s a poor vampire to do? Jarmusch doesn’t play this up for laughs, let alone suspense. It’s just a fact of life – or, to be more exact, un-life. Hiddleston is appropriately soggy in a Byronic kind of way, and Swinton, in a platinum-blond wig, gives the ultimate Tilda Swinton performance as a poetically famished vampiress. Has she ever, I wonder, played a character with a suntan? Grade: B (Rated R for language and brief nudity.)

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.