‘Only Lovers Left Alive’ requires some adjustment, but is worth it

Jim Jarmusch is an ideal filmmaker for the vampire genre. He’s fashioned a distinguished career out of moody portraits of outsiders, after all.

“Only Lovers Left Alive” is exactly the sort of picture about bloodsuckers you’d expect from the director of “Stranger Than Paradise.” And that’s a compliment.

It’s defined by faded interiors, underlit streets and the sort of sleek modern attire one might find in a glossy perfume commercial.

It’s a film about emptiness and loneliness, paralleling a chapter in the lives of vampire lovers Adam (Tom Hiddleston) and Eve (Tilda Swinton) with its abandoned Detroit setting, in which relics of past glory are left to rust and die.

The experience of watching the movie is a lot like listening to a cool, smooth piece of electronic music (it’s no coincidence that Jarmusch’s band worked on the soundtrack). The story is little more than an extended encounter but meaning is found in the ways the conversations progress, the ways the characters move in relation to one another and in the slow and steady revelation of small details. Getting used to this sort of storytelling requires some adjustment, especially when you’re used to the “Twilight” mode of vampire storytelling, but it’s worth it.


Directed by Jim Jarmusch
Starring Tom Hiddleston, Tilda Swinton, Mia Wasikowska
Rated R
Playing at Lincoln Center, Landmark Sunshine