Only Lovers Left Alive

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Only Lovers Left Alive
Only Lovers Left Alive English film poster.png
English theatrical poster
Directed by Jim Jarmusch
Produced by Jeremy Thomas
Reinhard Brundig
Written by Jim Jarmusch
Starring Tilda Swinton
Tom Hiddleston
Mia Wasikowska
Anton Yelchin
Jeffrey Wright
Slimane Dazi
John Hurt
Music by Jozef van Wissem, Yasmine Hamdan, SQÜRL
Cinematography Yorick Le Saux
Edited by Affonso Gonçalves
Production
company
Distributed by Soda Pictures (United Kingdom)
Pandora Film Verleih (Germany)
Release date
  • 25 May 2013 (2013-05-25) (Cannes)
  • 25 December 2013 (2013-12-25) (Germany)
  • 21 February 2014 (2014-02-21) (United Kingdom)
Running time
123 minutes[1]
Country United Kingdom
Germany[2]
Language English
Budget $7 million[3]
Box office $7.6 million[4]

Only Lovers Left Alive is a 2013 internationally co-produced vampire film written and directed by Jim Jarmusch, starring Tilda Swinton, Tom Hiddleston, Mia Wasikowska, Anton Yelchin, Jeffrey Wright, Slimane Dazi and John Hurt. A co-production of the United Kingdom and Germany, the film was nominated for the Palme d'Or at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival.

In 2016, the film was ranked among the 100 greatest films since 2000 in an international critics poll by 177 critics around the world.[5]

Plot[edit]

Married for centuries and now living half a world apart, two vampires wake as the sun goes down. Adam sits holding a lute, in his cluttered Detroit Victorian, as Eve wakes up in her bedroom in Tangier, surrounded by books. Rather than feeding on humans, they are like addicts, dependent on local suppliers of the "good stuff" because they fear exposure in the 20th Century, as well as contamination from blood poisoned by the degradation of the modern environment. Adam visits a local blood bank in the dead of night, masquerading as "Dr. Faust", paying "Dr. Watson" for his coveted O negative, while Eve relies on their old friend Christopher Marlowe, who faked his death in 1593 and now lives under the protection of a local man.

After influencing the careers of countless famous musicians and scientists, Adam has become withdrawn and suicidal. His desire to reconnect through his music is at odds with the danger of recognition as well as his contempt for the corrupt and foolish humans he refers to as 'zombies'. He spends his days recording his compositions on outdated studio equipment and lamenting the state of the modern world, whilst collecting vintage instruments. He pays Ian, a naive young music fan, to procure vintage guitars and other assorted curiosities, including a custom-made wooden bullet with a brass casing he thinks of using to kill himself. Having acquired much scientific knowledge over the years, Adam has built contraptions to power his home and a vintage sports car with technology originally pioneered by Nikola Tesla. His reclusive nature adds to his mystique as a musician and composer; he is upset when some intrepid fans turn up on his doorstep. Ian promises to discreetly spread rumours about Adam living elsewhere to draw them away.

When Eve phones, she recognises Adam is despondent and decides to come to Detroit to comfort him. Soon after she arrives, Adam goes out for more blood and she discovers his revolver hidden under the bed with the wooden bullet. Her vampire senses reveal to her that the bullet is new and she is worried. Eve confronts Adam when he returns, chiding him for wasting the life and opportunities he has to enjoy and appreciate the good things in the world, as well as their relationship. They spend their nights cruising the empty streets of Detroit, listening to music and playing chess. Their idyll is shattered by the arrival of Eve's younger sister, Ava, from Los Angeles. Ava gorges herself on their stash of the "good stuff" and hungry for excitement, persuades them to go out to a local club with Ian, where they hear Adam's music playing by the band White Hills. Ava offers Ian a hit off the flask she secretly filled with blood and brought to the club but Adam snatches it from her with supernatural speed and insists they leave. Before dawn, Ava kills Ian by drinking too much of his blood and Adam kicks her out of the house.

Adam and Eve dispose of Ian's corpse in an acid pool in an abandoned factory. Ian's murder and the appearance of another group of Adam's fans at the house, compel the couple hastily to return to Tangier with only what they can carry onto the plane. Desperately hungry, they visit Marlowe and learn that their old friend and mentor has been poisoned by accidentally drinking contaminated blood. After they discuss how Marlowe secretly wrote most of Shakespeare's plays, Marlowe dies. Eve takes Adam's ready cash and leaves him with the promise of a gift. He is captivated by the music from a nearby club, where Lebanese singer Yasmine is finishing a haunting song. Eve reappears with a beautiful oud and as they sit together outdoors and contemplate their likely demise, they spot a pair of young lovers kissing. "What choice do we have?" Adam remarks, before the two of them approach the couple with the intent of drinking their blood.

Cast[edit]

Production[edit]

In August 2010, Jarmusch said that Tilda Swinton, Michael Fassbender, Mia Wasikowska and John Hurt had agreed to join the film, described by Jarmusch in May 2011 as a "crypto-vampire love story" but he did not have financing yet.[6][7] Financing the film was a difficult process for the director and he explained at the world premiere at the Cannes International Film Festival in May 2013 that, "it's getting more and more difficult for films that are a little unusual, or not predictable, or don't satisfy people's expectations of something".[8]

Jarmusch revealed in 2014 that, after seven years of frustration, Swinton said "That's good news, it means that now is not the time. It will happen when it needs to happen".[9] Jarmusch eventually received a US$7 million budget from the German "NRW Filmstiftung".[8][10] Producer Jeremy Thomas later said that Jarmusch is "one of the great American independent film-makers – he's the last of the line. People are not coming through like that any more".[11]

In January 2012, Tom Hiddleston replaced Fassbender prior to filming.[12] Shooting began in June 2012 in numerous locations, the Brush Park district of Detroit, Michigan, U.S., Tangier, Morocco, Hamburg and Cologne in Germany.[13][14][15][16] Filming lasted seven weeks.[17]

The film is one of several Jarmusch productions, with films such as Night on Earth, in which the action mainly occurs at night. Swinton stated after the film's release: "Jim is pretty much nocturnal, so the nightscape is pretty much his palette. There's something about things glowing in the darkness that feels to me really Jim Jarmusch. He's a rock star".[11]

Soundtrack[edit]

Jarmusch's band SQÜRL, primarily responsible for the film's score, opens the film with a version of Wanda Jackson’s 1961 song "Funnel of Love". Other contributors to the soundtrack are Zola Jesus (a.k.a. Nika Roza Danilova) and Lebanese vocalist Yasmine Hamdan, while Dutch lute player Jozef van Wissem's compositions formed the core of the film's aural aesthetic.[18] During the week of the soundtrack album's release, in April 2014, Van Wissem explained:

I know the way [Jarmusch] makes his films is kind of like a musician. He has music in his head when he’s writing a script so it’s more informed by a tonal thing than it is by anything else ... I feel that I’m sort of political. Jim’s film is anti-contemporary-society. And the lute goes against all technology and against all computers and against all the shit you don’t need.[18]

Van Wissem also described the film as "a very personal film, maybe even autobiographical" and that "Jim is a cultural sponge, he absorbs everything".[11] A concert was held at the Santos Party House venue in New York City in April 2014 to celebrate the release of Jarmusch's eleventh feature film. During the Santos event, Jesus performed with van Wissem on both a "pseudo-Gregorian" piece from the film's soundtrack and an unrecorded collaboration.[18]


The list of songs:

Cultural references[edit]

Jarmusch not only sees himself as a "film nerd",[12] he has also been called "a cultural sponge" by van Wissem.[11] This film is full of cultural references and therefore it has been praised as "intensely curated" and "an elegiac love song to aesthetic originary creation".[19][20] Most of the hints are musical and other others refer to science, literature or Jarmusch's work. The implicit vampires (Adam, Eve and Christopher) are sort of "secret agents of artistic and intellectual achievement throughout history", having created art for others like William Shakespeare or Franz Schubert (for whom Adam is said to have written the famous Adagio of the cello string quintet D956) the movement used by Jarmusch in his 2009 movie The Limits of Control.[19][21]).

An unnamed Jarmusch film described in enough detail probably to be Only Lovers Left Alive is viewed and briefly discussed by the protagonist and a major secondary character during their first date, in Charles Stross's 2016 novel The Nightmare Stacks.

The title[edit]

The title pays tribute to the Dave Wallis science fiction novel of the same name from 1964, although the plots have no similarities. A film adaptation was planned in the mid-1960s for director Nicholas Ray (a picture of him can later be seen in the movie) starring The Rolling Stones.[22][23]

Names[edit]

The names "Adam" and "Eve" can easily be inferred to allude to the biblical creation story but in an interview for The Hollywood Reporter Jarmusch revealed he was originally referring to Mark Twain's satirical work The Diaries of Adam and Eve.[12]

For her flight from Tangier to Detroit Eve uses the surname "Fibonacci", taken from the Italian mathematician Leonardo Fibonacci.[19] On their flights to Tangier they use the names Stephen Dedalus (from James Joyce's A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man and Ulysses) and Daisy Buchanan (from F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby).[19] On his two visits to Dr. Watson (Jeffrey Wright) Adam's name tags show "Dr. Faust" (from the German legend of Faust, from which Marlowe wrote the play The Tragical History of the Life and Death of Doctor Faustus) and "Dr. Caligari" (an homage to the German silent movie The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari).[19] At the first visit, Watson calls him "Dr. Strangelove" like the eponymous character in Stanley Kubrick's film Dr. Strangelove.[24]

Music equipment and technology[edit]

Parallel to Adam's fondness for vintage instruments and audio equipment, Jarmusch originally planned shooting the movie on analog film; budgetary considerations however forced the use of a digital Arri Alexa Plus with Cooke S4 lenses. Only vinyl (mostly singles) are played and analogue recording is used.[19] The film opens with a view of a ten-course renaissance lute (credited as built by Michael Schreiner of Toronto). Adam receives four guitars in the beginning from Ian:[19]

Later, a 1905 Gibson L2 is shown while other guitars, violins and cellos can be seen in Adam's studio.[20] Among Adam's recording equipment is a Premier drum set, a Telefunken and Revox tape recorder, a Marshall and Fender amps. Eve and her sister are more adapted to modern technology. To communicate via Skype with her lover, Eve uses her iPhone while Adam sets up a laptop connected to a wood-cabinet tube television.[19] Ava uses YouTube to watch the music video of "Soul Dracula" by the French band Hot Blood. Early in the film, Adam asserts that seventeenth century musician William Lawes was known for his funeral music, perhaps confusing him with Henry Purcell. Lawes wrote no funeral music, Purcell famously did.

Literature[edit]

Among the books Eve reads and packs for her trip to Detroit are:[20][25]

and a picture of Lorenzo Ghiberti's "La Creazione di Adamo e di Eva" from his Porta del Paradiso

Referring to the story that Christopher Marlowe may have faked his death and then written under the pseudonym of William Shakespeare, Marlow tells Eve that Adam would have been the perfect inspiration for his Hamlet.[20]

Scientists[edit]

The mentioned scientists Adam adores are: Pythagoras, Galileo Galilei, Nicolaus Copernicus, Isaac Newton, Nikola Tesla, Charles Darwin, and Albert Einstein.[26]

Wall of fame[edit]

While Adam often mentions that he has no "heroes", opposite his bed the wall is covered with pictures of personalities, which include

Places[edit]

The home of Adam is originally located at 82 Alfred Street, Detroit. When the protagonists are cruising around the neighbourhood, Adam shows Eve the Michigan Theater, which is now a parking deck and the place where Jack White grew up with his family.[27] (White previously played a Tesla expert in Coffee and Cigarettes.)

Release[edit]

Cast and director at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival.

In April 2013, the film was added to the 2013 Cannes Film Festival in the competition section.[28] It was shown at several film festivals, such as the September 2013 Toronto International Film Festival,[29] four screenings at the September/October 2013 Reykjavík International Film Festival,[30] and as an opening film for the 4th American Film Festival held in Wrocław, Poland.[31]

The film was officially released in the United Kingdom on 21 February 2014,[32] and opened in the United States on 11 April 2014.[33]

Reception[edit]

Critical response[edit]

Rotten Tomatoes, a review aggregator, gives the film an approval rating of 85% based on 179 reviews, with an average rating of 7.4/10. The critical consensus states that "Worth watching for Tom Hiddleston and Tilda Swinton's performances alone, Only Lovers Left Alive finds writer-director Jim Jarmusch adding a typically offbeat entry to the vampire genre".[34] Metacritic gave the film a rating of 79/100 based on 41 reviews, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[35]

Scott A. Gray of Exclaim! gave the film 8 out of 10, calling it "a visually poetic love story with a wry, jaded sense of humour about finding reasons to wake up every night".[36] Calum Marsh of Slant Magazine gave it 3 out of 4 stars.[37] Jonathan Romney of Screen International commented that it is Jarmusch's most poetic film since Dead Man.[38]

Todd McCarthy of The Hollywood Reporter described the film as "the perennial downtown filmmaker's best work in many years, probably since 1995's Dead Man, with which it shares a sense of quiet, heady, perilous passage."[39] Jonathan Hatfull of SciFiNow wrote that it is Jarmusch's best film since Ghost Dog.[40]

Robbie Collin from The Daily Telegraph awarded the film 4 out of 5 stars and praised the performances of Swinton and Hiddleston: "In the time-honoured Jarmuschian fashion, the few things that happen in Only Lovers Left Alive happen very slowly, but the dialogue is always gloomily amusing, and Swinton and Hiddleston's delivery of the gags is as cold and crisp as footsteps in fresh snow".[41] Jessica Kiang of IndieWire gave the film a B+ grade, "the real pleasure of the film is in its languid droll cool and its romantic portrayal of the central couple, who are now our number one role models in the inevitable event of us turning vampiric".[42]

Tim Grierson of Paste noted that "Hiddleston and Swinton play their characters not as blasé hipsters but, rather, deeply reflective, almost regretful old souls who seem to have decided that love is about the only thing you can count on".[43] Peter Bradshaw of The Guardian gave the film 3 out of 5 stars, pointing that Adam and Eve look more like "well-born incestuous siblings" in spite of being lovers, while the Observer's Jonathan Romney concluded that the film is "a droll, classy piece of cinematic dandyism that makes the Twilight cycle redundant in one exquisitely languid stroke".[44][45]

Kurt Halfyard of Twitch Film commented: "Retro recording equipment hasn't looked this claustrophobically sexy since Berberian Sound Studio".[46] Alfred Joyner of International Business Times felt that "the melancholy that permeates Motown in the film could be seen as Jarmusch's take on the loss of America's greatness in the 21st century".[47]

Accolades[edit]

Award Category Recipients and
nominees
Result Refs.
Cannes Film Festival Palme d'Or N/A Nominated [48][49]
Soundtrack Award N/A Won
Sitges Film Festival Special Jury Prize N/A Won [50]
Independent Spirit Awards Best Female Lead Tilda Swinton Nominated [51]
Best Screenplay Jim Jarmusch Nominated
Saturn Awards Best Horror Film N/A Nominated

References[edit]

  1. ^ "ONLY LOVERS LEFT ALIVE (15)". Soda Pictures. British Board of Film Classification. 7 January 2014. Retrieved 23 April 2014. 
  2. ^ "ONLY LOVERS LEFT ALIVE". Festival de Cannes 2013. Retrieved 1 January 2014. 
  3. ^ Pulver, Andrew (25 May 2013). "Cannes 2013: Only Lovers Left Alive a seven year trek says Jim Jarmusch". The Guardian. 
  4. ^ "Only Lovers Left Alive (2014) - International Box Office Results". Box Office Mojo. Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 2 September 2014. 
  5. ^ "The 21st Century's 100 greatest films". bbc.com. 23 August 2016. Retrieved 23 June 2018. 
  6. ^ MacNab, Geoffrey (16 May 2011). "Swinton, Fassbender and Wasikowska line up for Jarmusch's vampire story". ScreenDaily. Retrieved 16 May 2011. 
  7. ^ Weingarten, Christopher R. (25 August 2010). "Jim Jarmusch's Showtunes". Village Voice. Retrieved 14 September 2010. 
  8. ^ a b Andrew Pulver (25 May 2013). "Cannes 2013: Only Lovers Left Alive a seven-year trek says Jim Jarmusch". The Guardian. Retrieved 21 February 2014. 
  9. ^ David Ehrlich (20 February 2014). "Jim Jarmusch: 'Women are my leaders'". The Guardian. Retrieved 21 February 2014. 
  10. ^ Begnoche, Michelle (16 July 2012). "Jim Jarmusch Feature Only Lovers Left Alive Approved for Film Incentives". Michigan Film Office. Archived from the original on 24 September 2012. 
  11. ^ a b c d e Jonathan Romney (22 February 2014). "Jim Jarmusch: how the film world's maverick stayed true to his roots". The Guardian. Retrieved 16 May 2014. 
  12. ^ a b c Roxborough, Scott (30 January 2012). "Tilda Swinton, John Hurt Join Jim Jarmusch's Vampire Film 'Only Lovers Left Alive'". The Hollywood Reporter. 
  13. ^ "Tom Hiddleston takes time to greet fans in Detroit where he is filming 'Only Lovers Left Alive'". 15 July 2012. 
  14. ^ "Tom Hiddleston on winning the Total Film Hotlist Awards: interview". Total Film. 4 August 2012. Retrieved 27 August 2012. 
  15. ^ Jacquemain, Karolin (18 July 2012). "Tilda Swinton dreht seit Dienstag in Ottensen" [Tilda Swinton filming in Ottensen since Tuesday]. Hamburger Abendblatt (in German). 
  16. ^ Ferguson, Liz (1 August 2012). "If there were Oscar awards for being nice to fans – Tom Hiddleston would surely win lots of them". Montreal Gazette. 
  17. ^ Bliss, Karen (15 September 2013). "New Jim Jarmusch Film Explores the Emotional Lives of Vampires". Rolling Stone. 
  18. ^ a b c Steve Dollar (11 April 2014). "Jozef van Wissem wants to make the lute 'sexy again,' and Jim Jarmusch is helping him". The Washington Post. Retrieved 16 May 2014. 
  19. ^ a b c d e f g h i Richard Brody (10 April 2014). "Jim Jarmusch's Petrified Hipness". The New Yorker. Retrieved 26 January 2016. 
  20. ^ a b c d e Edwin Turner (20 May 2014). "Curation and Creation in Only Lovers Left Alive, Jim Jarmusch's Vampire Film". biblioklept. Retrieved 26 January 2016. 
  21. ^ "allmusic.com entry". allmusic.com. Retrieved 2016-10-07. 
  22. ^ Emma Love, "Silenced cinema", Independent Extra (Brighton), 17 November 2009, p 14
  23. ^ Patrick Humphries, "Music: Bring back the clowns", The Guardian (UK), 11 October 1996, page T12
  24. ^ a b Andrew Tracy (12 January 2014). "Temps mort: Jim Jarmusch's Only Lovers Left Alive". cinema scope. Retrieved 26 January 2016. 
  25. ^ "The Books of Eve in Only Lovers Left Alive". Filmflare. Retrieved 24 January 2016. 
  26. ^ "Only Lovers Left Alive (2013)". The other journal. Retrieved 24 January 2016. 
  27. ^ a b A. O. SCOTT (10 April 2014). "Art and Style Are Their Lifeblood". NYTimes. Retrieved 26 January 2016. 
  28. ^ Tartaglione, Nancy (26 April 2013). "Cannes: Jim Jarmusch's 'Only Lovers Left Alive' Among Additions". Deadline.com. 
  29. ^ "Toronto film festival 2013: the full line-up". The Guardian. London. 23 July 2013. Retrieved 2013-07-24. 
  30. ^ "Only Lovers Left Alive screening schedule". Reykjavík Film Festival website. Archived from the original on 23 September 2013. Retrieved 24 September 2013. 
  31. ^ "American Film Festival, Wrocław". 
  32. ^ Bustos, Kristina (2 November 2013). "'Only Lovers Left Alive' trailer with Tilda Swinton, Tom Hiddleston". Digital Spy. 
  33. ^ Tartaglione, Nancy (16 January 2014). "Hot Trailer: 'Only Lovers Left Alive'". Deadline.com. 
  34. ^ {{cite web|url=http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/only_lovers_left_alive/%7Ctitle=Only Lovers Left Alive|publisher=Flixster | work=Rotten Tomatoes |accessdate=16 February 2018}
  35. ^ "Only Lovers Left Alive Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved 23 April 2014. 
  36. ^ Gray, Scott A. (4 September 2013). "Only Lovers Left Alive – Directed by Jim Jarmusch". Exclaim!. 
  37. ^ Marsh, Calum (12 October 2013). "Only Lovers Left Alive". Slant Magazine. 
  38. ^ Romney, Jonathan (25 May 2013). "Only Lovers Left Alive". Screen International. 
  39. ^ McCarthy, Todd (25 May 2013). "Only Lovers Left Alive: Cannes Review". The Hollywood Reporter. 
  40. ^ Hatfull, Jonathan (14 November 2013). "Only Lovers Left Alive film review". SciFiNow. 
  41. ^ "Cannes 2013: Only Lovers Left Alive, review". Daily Telegraph. London. 24 May 2013. Archived from the original on 26 May 2013. Retrieved 27 May 2013. 
  42. ^ Kiang, Jessica (24 May 2013). "Cannes Review: Droll, Louche & Languidly Playful 'Only Lovers Left Alive' Is Jarmusch At His Most Enjoyable & Accessible". IndieWire. 
  43. ^ Grierson, Tim (30 May 2013). "Only Lovers Left Alive (2013 Cannes review)". Paste. 
  44. ^ Badshaw, Peter (24 May 2013). "Cannes 2013: Only Lovers Left Alive – first look review". The Guardian. 
  45. ^ Jonathan Romney (23 February 2014). "Only Lovers Left Alive – review". The Observer. Retrieved 16 May 2014. 
  46. ^ Halfyard, Kurt (5 September 2013). "TIFF 2013 Review: Only Lovers Left Alive Brings a Cosmopolitan Maturity to the Ailing Vampire Genre". Twitch Film. 
  47. ^ Joyner, Alfred (19 October 2013). "Only Lovers Left Alive: Jim Jarmusch's Rock Star Take on Modern Vampires". International Business Times. 
  48. ^ Adamson, Thomas (25 May 2013). "'Only Lovers Left Alive' Hits Cannes With Tilda Swinton Starring". The Huffington Post. 
  49. ^ Rosser, Michael (8 October 2013). "Only Lovers Left Alive to open American Film Festival in Wroclaw". Screen International. 
  50. ^ Mayorga, Emilio; Hopewell, John (19 October 2013). "'Borgman' Tops Sitges". Variety. 
  51. ^ "2015 Nominee Onesheet" (PDF). Independent Spirit Awards. 16 December 2014. 

External links[edit]