Adam (Tom Hiddleston) is a reclusive, yet brilliantly talented and desired, rock star whose only wish is to avoid his adoring fans and write and play his music. Eve (Tilda Swinton) is his lady belle, who leaves her closest friend, Christopher Marlowe (John Hurt), to travel halfway around the world to be with her lover and live in a ramshackle mansion-cum-recording studio on the outskirts of Detroit. Their reverie is troubled, not just by the fans who close in on and keep vigil outside Adam’s hideaway, but also by Eve’s irascible sister (Mia Wasikowska), who it seems perpetually stuck as a rambunctious and untameable teenager despite being just as old as the rest of the vampires she`s connected too.
Director Jim Jarmush uses the guise of the thousands year old vampires to tell a story dripped in decay and gothic sensibilities. Jarmush`s vampires are in no hurry to do anything, who would be after living thousands of years and seeing pretty much everything you could imagine, and in the case of Adam and Eve can spend hundreds of years apart yet remain deeply in love. The Detroit setting turns out to be a genius masterstroke in story telling as the near abandoned buildings and decrepit setting provide the perfect backdrop for the angst ridden Adam to wallow in. The film is packed with nods to historical people and places and infers that the group, including Hurt`s Christopher, have been manipulating art and culture since the time of Keats, Shelly and even Shakespeare.
Equally a meditation of the lasting impact of art throughout history, Jarmush manages to get the most out of the majority of his talented cast. Wasikowska is lost and sadly ineffectual in her turn as the sister, yet her role is a brief and fleeting for the audience as what a hundred years must feel like for the rest of the characters. A brooding and creative piece, Only Lovers Left Alive is one of the biggest highlights of TIFF 2013.
Till Next Time
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