'Lovers': Jim Jarmusch's vampire flick
Tilda Swinton and Tom Hiddleston are tragically bored vampires in Jim Jarmuschs Only Lovers Left Alive.
IN "Only Lovers Left Alive," it's the end of the world as Jim Jarmusch knows it, and he doesn't feel fine.
The bohemian deadpan minimalist is in the cranky old man phase of his career - "Lovers" has the sour mood of a guy who feels like he's been around too long, witnessed the decline of humanity and also wants the kid next door turn to down the blasted rap music.
These feelings find expression in the movie's central idea of bored immortals - "Only Lovers Left Alive" is Jarmusch's vampire flick.
Vampire Adam (Tom Hiddleston) lives a hermit's life in Detroit. He makes experimental rock music in America's notorious industrial/cultural ghost town, where we used to make great cars and great music. Adam is surrounded by relics of the rock era, lovingly preserved, and though he doesn't disdain newfangled things, like the Internet, he rigs a complex set of wiring so that all online images are routed through his "Mad Men"-era Magnavox.
He has a palpable disdain for "zombies," his word for the living humans, and he becomes so lonely in this defunct, soulless place that he summons his vampire lover, Eve, played by pale-on-pale Tilda Swinton.
How has the ethereal Swinton managed to go this long without playing a vampire? It's a role she was born to play, and she imbues the movie with the tragic, soul-in-twilight mood that it fleetingly attains.
Hiddleston, a fine actor but a naturally playful one, feels slightly miscast, shorn of the gleam-in-the-eye wit that makes him fun to watch in the "Thor" movies.
Here, that energy is assigned to Mia Wasikowska, as Eve's disruptive, incorrigible sister, who prefers to feast on live humans - Adam and Eve get their blood from the bank.
And from Christopher Marlowe (John Hurt), who keeps a supply of the good stuff in Tangiers, where the movie ends.
The Marlowe character is further evidence that Adam and Eve have seen all there is to see of humanity, a cynicism that grates. Jarmusch indulges, for instance, the theory that Marlowe actually wrote all of Shakespeare's plays and poems.
It's a bit of a contradiction for a movie that professes to hate zombies because they "fear their own imaginations." The movie's Shakespeare-is-a-fraud cliche seems like jealous fear of the bard's own prodigious imagination.
In all, the movie's misanthropy feels tired, and premature - Jarmusch is only 61. Somebody needs to tell him that fellow New Yorker Woody Allen is 78 and still working hard.
Buck up, dude. By Allen's standards, you still have 20 movies to go.