“Only Lovers Left Alive” is Jim Jarmusch’s heady vampire romance set between Detroit and Tangier, starring an enigmatic Tilda Swinton and a slouchily brooding Tom Hiddleston. Sinously dark and impishly funny, it is a meditation on light and despair. The film stylishly subverts the vampire genre, delighting in the aesthetic potential of classic vampire mores such as drinking human blood and protecting the skin from sunlight. Here the vamps swig from repoussé silver flasks and lick type O popsicles, clad in rocker jackets and fingerless lambskin gloves.
The choice of Detroit and Tangier, cities seen only by night as per vampire sleep schedules, is highly poetic. Detroit is cast as a hollow city, haunted by the old thrum of Motown music and hot rod cars. This is the home of Adam: part-time musician, full-time moper, long-time vampire. Tangier is ominously calm, seen through winding passageways and darkened entryways, leading to the dreamy enclave wherein lies Adam’s wive, Eve. The profession Eve occupies is more oblique, but she seems to be a polyglot who reads extensively and swirls around her bohemian apartments, wrapped in the world’s great textiles. The phrase “manic pixie dream girl” might apply if her character weren’t so strange and compelling. Swinton gives Eve a sort of purpose simply by virtue of her dignity, compunction, and appreciation for beauty. Yes, it would have been preferable if some body of art or literature were attributed to Eve as they are to the male characters, but hey, vampires are catching up on gender parity also.
The movie posits that living forever is a great thing, so long as you can be productive while avoiding the pitfalls of fame, the destruction of our finite resources, and the darkness of despair. As Adam decides whether to use the wooden bullet he commissions to shoot himself, Eve urges him to bet on the eternal future, on creation, on resurrection. Cruising the ghoulish hellscape of Detroit by night, Adam tells Eve that everyone has left the city. Eve believes they will return, insisting, “There’s water here. And when the cities in the South are burning, this place will bloom.”
Shop the movie, clockwise from left side: Qing Dynasty Ceremonial Robe, RayBan Wayfarer Max Sunglasses, 19th Century Brocade Fur Coat, Saffron Lame 1920’s Shawl, 18th Century Silver Flasks, 1984 Gibson Citation Guitar, Rick Owens Grey Women’s Biker Jacket, Ann Demeulemeester Black Men’s Biker Jacket.