Only Lovers Left Alive

 (2,827)7.32 h 3 min2014X-RayR
The centuries-long love affair of two cultured vampires (Tom Hiddleston and Tilda Swinton) is imperiled by her sister (Mia Wasikowska) in Jim Jarmusch’s film.
Jim Jarmusch
Tom HiddlestonJohn HurtTilda Swinton
English [CC]
Audio languages
EnglishEnglish [Audio Description]
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Supporting actors
Mia WasikowskaJeffrey WrightAnton YelchinSlimane DaziWayne BrinstonCarter Logan
Reinhard BrundigJeremy Thomas
Sony Pictures Classics
R (Restricted)
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4.6 out of 5 stars

2827 global ratings

  1. 78% of reviews have 5 stars
  2. 10% of reviews have 4 stars
  3. 6% of reviews have 3 stars
  4. 3% of reviews have 2 stars
  5. 3% of reviews have 1 stars
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Top reviews from the United States

NYC212Reviewed in the United States on January 9, 2018
5.0 out of 5 stars
I love, love
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I love, love, love this movie! I can't recommend it highly enough. The pace is appropriately languid and there are a lot of layers to this story - religion, science, social responsibility, what it means to be an individual yet still part of a couple, struggling against the defeat of humanity, the purpose of art (for self-expression or to change society), the value and cost of artistic fame. The fact that the main characters are vampires is merely a symbolic device to further the plot; this isn't a vampire movie along the lines of Dracula or Underworld. It seems clear to me that Adam and Eve are intended to be the "original" biblical Adam and Eve, cast out of the light for all eternity, subsisting off of the increasingly compromised human race that is destroying their Garden of Eden, while they foresee future calamities and know history by mere touch. Adam suffers from depression and Eve and his music are the only things that bring him back from the brink over the centuries. He overthinks and creates; she experiences and enjoys creation. They compliment each other perfectly and remain separate individuals while completely devoted to each other. The movie follows a brief moment in their eternal marriage and shows how they give each other the space and support to be themselves, while also always being one. It's incredibly romantic, brooding, thought-provoking, wryly funny (Adam's doctor name tags!), and atmospheric. If you like Glen Duncan's brilliant philosophical novel "The Last Werewolf" then you will love this movie!
93 people found this helpful
SlowcloudReviewed in the United States on August 3, 2018
5.0 out of 5 stars
Jim Jarmusch's 'Only Lovers Left Alive' presents complex, enthralling portrait of the jaded vampire
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I originally wrote this for my blog, Indepedent Ethos. But I love this movie so much, I want to share my POV here: Only Lovers Left Alive, the long-awaited vampire drama by Jim Jarmusch, has to be one of the better date movies I've seen in a long time. There is something beautiful yet romantically slippery about the exquisitely matured bond between the vampire couple at the heart of the film. Adam (Tom Hiddleston) and Eve (Tilda Swinton) may be the first vampires of time immemorial. With so many centuries behind them, Jarmusch, who also wrote the script, presents this couple as the antithesis to the naive lovers in the Twilight Saga.

Stunningly stylish from beginning to end, Jarmusch treats the idea of long-surviving/suffering vampires in only the way he can, with brilliant wit and heartfelt respect. Beyond jokes like the characters' names, Jarmusch profoundly considers the effects of immortality on the minds of these creatures, both positively and negatively. Eve can speed read Infinite Jest, and thoughtful Adam tends to agree with Einstein’s critique of quantum mechanics: "Spooky Action At a Distance." She lives more in the moment, taking up residence in an opium den in Tangiers and in the company of Christopher Marlowe (John Hurt) who apparently faked his death in 1593 to carry on living as a vampire (he's still bitter about Shakespeare). Meanwhile, Adam languishes in a big old house in the appropriately ghostly city of Detroit. He surrounds himself with dated electronics and uses rare instruments to compose experimental music on reel-to-reel tape to be released on limited edition 180 gram vinyl with no label. To stay in touch with Adam, Eve uses Facetime on her iPhone while Adam uses a low-resolution webcam attached to a PC tower.

As with any romance movies involving mature individuals, love can get complicated, even with this decidedly progressive couple. Over the ages, Adam and Eve have developed a becalmed relationship. They don't raise their voices at each other and despite the huge geographic gulf and differing lifestyles, their affection for one another does not waver. Still, a sort of tired undercurrent runs below the surface of their relationship despite a magnetism of shared experiences and an emotional investment that goes back centuries. They don't just have chemistry, they have a fusion as deep as old bones calcifying to become one. They are old souls incarnate.

Ultimately, Adam's loneliness becomes palatable to Eve from across the globe, and she books a red-eye to fly to Detroit. He's gone a tad mad and depressed, turning into a hoarder of sorts. Once at the cluttered mansion, Eve stumbles across a wooden bullet Adam had obtained from his human connection to the black market, Ian (Anton Yelchin). It upsets Eve with a quiet frustration, yet she handles it delicately, recognizing it as a call for attention more than a threat. The real kink comes in the unexpected arrival of Eve's younger sister Ava (Mia Wasikowska), who must have turned undead before her frontal lobe had fully developed. She's the most troublesome of the quartet. While the other vamps prefer anonymity, Ava's rather reckless. Wasikowska plays her with a wide-eyed precocious smile. She's like a mischievous elf hiding in the shadows ready to pounce for a prank, albeit a deadly kind. Her character adds a colorful bit of comic relief to the mostly purposely dour proceedings.

"only lovers left alive"Still, all of the film's characters are a delight, even if the film's plot is spare and ambling. As it is with most Jarmusch films, it's all about the dynamics between the characters, and he keeps the narrative focused on the nighttime activities of the vamps. The entire movie appropriately unfolds in the shadows, against a perpetual nocturnal backdrop. Cinematographer Yorick Le Saux, working with Jarmusch for the first time, delivers varying scenes using diverse degrees of focus and colored filters for different shades of atmosphere.

It's all about the vampires in Only Lovers Left Alive, and they are ironically soulful characters. Humanity has somehow lost touch with slowing down and savoring life, unlike these undead culture vultures. Jarmusch places humans in the periphery. Some human characters are only shadows in the distance. "only lovers left alive"They roam the world on a diet of junk food and junk culture to the point that their blood has grown literally unpalatable to the vampires. Adam and Eve don't dare bite anyone's neck for fear of contamination by impure blood. Instead, they look for pure Type O-negative on the black market to sip out of sherry glasses. The vampires don't even refer to mortals as human. Instead, they call them "zombies."

The film's score and musical sequences deserve highlighting, beginning with the sumptuously absorbing score by lute player Jozef van Wissem backed by Jarmusch's very own band SQÜRL. The opening scene introducing us to the vampires is a brilliant montage featuring a perpetually rotating camera, turning the image around the screen at what seems to be 33 rpm--- the speed of a record player. The detailed art design, augmented with beguiling costumes, all twirling 'round can feel dizzying. The sensation is heightened further with the growling vocals of Cults' Madeline Follin covering Wanda Jackson's "Funnel Of Love" and the super-delayed echoing of a blues-infused electric guitar weaving around a stomping, slow beat, which is occasionally accented with a single ringing chime. It's a bit of sensory overload, but it captivates all the same. The sequence could work brilliantly as a music video alone.

It's not the only time music takes over for narrative of Only Lovers Left Alive in enchanting ways. When the vampires satisfy their thirsts, they act as if they are slipping away into an opiate high. The shallow focus of the scene allows their faces to drift away into blurs, fangs exposed, maws bloody and half-agape. The scene is scored with Wissem lazily dragging a melody across his multi-stringed instrument, varying each refrain with a high note and a low note. Below, a guitar squeals a low, wash of feedback. It's an enthralling moment, which delightfully recurs once more during the course of the film.

But the film is filled with many more delightful scenes, as it strides along at a relaxed pace that never tries the audience's patience, despite its two-hour-plus duration. Clearly, Jarmusch has spent a lot of time thinking about his version of the vampire. Even when they are troubled, like Adam, or deviant, like Ava, they remain interesting and even endearing. With Only Lovers Left Alive, Jarmusch has created a rich world that also provides a witty jab to the immature, pop-culture obsessed consumer who does not seem to know how to stop and savor the more complex arts. Yet, Jarmusch is not above offering a bit of self-deprecating critique back at his over-seriousness as channeled by these vampires. Despite its quirks, Only Lovers stands as one of his greatest and still entertaining personal statements in a long time.

--Hans Morgenstern
48 people found this helpful
SYNESTHESIAReviewed in the United States on April 20, 2020
5.0 out of 5 stars
Probably My Favorite Film (of around 20,000 I own)
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Perhaps it's Tilda Swinton in one of her best roles to date. Perhaps it's John Hurt's very late in his career superb character (Christopher Marlowe) and performance. Perhaps it's witnessing parts of Detroit, Michigan as ghost towns of toxic waste destruction. Perhaps it's Anton Yelchin alive and then gone way too soon. Perhaps it's Tom Hiddleston getting to show case his musical genius side. Perhaps it's the sound track. Perhaps its going with Tilda, Tom and John to Tangier, gazing upon the sights, scenes, people, seeing and hearing Yasmine Hamdan, the amazing Lebanese singer, watching her move ever so exquisitely, just as Eve (Tilda) and Adam (Tim) are on the verge of death when a young couple of lovers begin kissing in the blue moonlit sky over Tangier and become their feast of hope that Only Lovers (will be) Left Alive (perfection)~
17 people found this helpful
Taffey LewisReviewed in the United States on November 11, 2019
4.0 out of 5 stars
Eons of fascinating tedium
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Above everything else, this film successfully conveys the unbearable tedium of the concept of earthly immortality. For every colorful anecdote the protagonists have about their direct dealings with Byron or Chaucer or Shakespeare, hundreds of years transpire wherein absolutely nothing happens except for mind numbing boredom.

Unlike the struggling, poverty stricken vampires of "Byzantium", these vampires are more the mysteriously filthy rich kind similar to those in The Hunger". They always have an Al Capone sized roll of cash at their immediate disposal, which leads me to wonder exactly when they do their banking since they can't do everything with cash and the banks close before sundown. You can't buy a house at an ATM machine.

To me the most compelling character was the city of Detroit - eerily deathlike and abandoned - trapped in a living dead eternity as much as the vampires. The cinematography for the Detroit landscape was tragically gorgeous.

The film was slow, but like the film "Ghost Story" it is successful in conveying the sad reality of eternal life when time does not exist even as a concept.
17 people found this helpful
joel wingReviewed in the United States on January 30, 2021
3.0 out of 5 stars
2 vampres that can only stand each other's company
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Only Lovers Left Alive is a Jim Jarmusch film about two vampires, Tilda Swinton and Tom Hiddleston, who re-unite after being apart for years. It’s a love story about the two and how they are fated to be together no matter what.

The story is set in Detroit which is symbolic if Hiddleston’s state of mind. The city has tons of history but it is largely abandoned. That’s how Hiddleston feels, very old and forgotten. He plays a recluse and a grump.

There’s a great scene where he takes Swinson around the city when she first arrives that highlights his mood. It’s that feeling that leads him to call for the company of Swinton. When they do get together it’s funny because they can only stand themselves and really no one else.

The movie lacks a lot of the quirkiness that Jarmusch is known for but does have his plodding pace. It’s better than a lot of his recent movies that were a bit inconsistent.
7 people found this helpful
RhayzzaReviewed in the United States on July 1, 2021
4.0 out of 5 stars
Definitely NOT from the Bible...
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...per the director himself; read the Trivia bits. It's from Mark Twain's satirical "The Diaries of Adam & Eve." Not that this really matters, but literally the first review I read took it the wrong way; thought I'd add clarity, if you will.

I love all the major actors in this movie. I nearly turned it off when the sister came into the scene: That bit was predictable and quite aggravating (despite my love for Mia).

Silly Me, I thought the title had everything to do with one of the items procured relatively early in the movie. We learn what the title means at the very very end. I enjoyed that twist: At my age, it's incredibly hard to surprise me with anything anymore.

Loved the movie, will likely watch it again...just for the musical instruments within the film; they are almost characters with significant parts to play. No pun intended.
6 people found this helpful
AnonymiceReviewed in the United States on August 9, 2021
1.0 out of 5 stars
It's a Vampire Movie! Nothing more, and much less.
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So Jarmusch's film Dead Man is probably my all time favorite film, pushed to the top by the excellence of every single thing, and brought to life by Johnny Depp and Gary Farmer, plus cast of luminaries. Topped off by the music of Neil Young's electric guitar.

But this is not that. A real boner of a film which relies on the already discovered vampire narratives of Anne Rice, thus it is not revealing or cute in any way. Just a lot of pretentious drivel (some not even correct) about science, guitars (did like that part), and literature (yes, we watch YT, too). Oh, yeah, and Detroit. Duh. The witty life tidbits are incredibly few and far between and there is nothing new or surprising, about life or well, anything, really. Undetectable satire. One of the weakest scripts I've ever seen put to film. The end is unforgivably bad and dull. I waited and waited for the punch line reveal or the film to get going, as Jarmusch has a slow pace, but it never did. I fell asleep 3 times, trying to get through this. Languid is not even the word for it, as we watch Swinton stroll down street after street and swig blood and nod (Oh, I get it! Blood's like heroin! Kill me now.).

Worse yet, Jarmusch's band and another guy do their very best Neil Young Dead Man soundtrack imitation throughout. That's just cheap. Imagine 2001 having Dr. Strangelove's soundtrack. I think a different soundtrack would have been more effective, although if an excellent cast couldn't save this, then no music could, either.

Apparently, this is not really a vampire movie (!), "it's much deeper than that". Ye-ah.. But it's a vampire movie, wholly and completely, and if you love vampire movies, stay away. Let me repeat, it's a Vampire Movie.
4 people found this helpful
Calvin7Reviewed in the United States on January 22, 2021
5.0 out of 5 stars
Different take on Vampires
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This movie was a different take on vampires. It addresses their problem with long existence and the malaise that ensues.

I grew up on the standard vampire movies and books. The vampire was always the villain. The story was always about destroying the vampire who, after all, was a predator preying on humans. This made it very difficult for me to read books or watch movies that were at all sympathetic to them. I still cannot read Anne Rice or Charlaine Harris vampire books.

This movie tries to portray vampires in a non-predatory fashion. They try not to kill. They are spectators on the passing human parade. They speculate about science, human society and existence (not always favorably). They are (at least the main characters) cultured and urbane. They deal with survival in a human dominated society. They also must also deal with the ennui that comes with long existence.

All of this is interestingly portrayed by the main characters. It almost makes them objects for our sympathy. I note, however, that when push comes to shove they revert to the predatory creatures I always considered them to be.
6 people found this helpful
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