Sunday 18 May 2014

Review: Only Lovers Left Alive

A plotless drama that focuses on characters but doesn't include any not made of cardboard, Only Lovers Left Alive is one of the most excruciatingly painful cinematic experiences ever created. 

An assault on consciousness itself, it manages to feel like a ten hour plane flight in only two hours and three minutes. 

Presumably written over a drug and alcohol fueled evening by two narcissistic goths who imagine themselves to be real vampires (OMG), it's pretentious beyond comprehension, filled with pointless references, limp humour and events that lead absolutely nowhere. 

It's pure anti-drama.

Now, that may be your cup of tea, in which case this film is for you. Critics, for example, love it. Audiences love it. Indeed, Only Lovers Left Alive sits at 87% on Rotten Tomatoes. That's an impressive achievement.

Me? I wanted to chew my right leg off.

I'm here to offer a contrarian view, as I disliked this film more than anything since the unendurably tedious Cosmopolis. This may be the only negative review of this picture in existence, and I only offer my views to offer succor to those whose consciousness was mauled by this cinematic abomination: You are not alone. Indeed, I feel your pain. We are the true outliers. People who do not fit in with the beguiled zombie masses.

In the film, Tom Hiddleston plays Adam, a droll, suicidal vampire musician who likes guitars. That's it. That's the totality of his character. His even more uninteresting wife, Eve, is played by Tilda Swinton. Her sole saving grace is that she's played by Tilda Swinton, who's totally awesome. But she's given less than nothing to work with. 

Adam lives in the ruins of Detroit, while Eve resides in Tangiers for some reason. She hangs out with Christopher Marlowe, played by the wonderful John Hurt. It's like casting a god to play an ant. Sensing that Adam is feeling glum, Eve sets off (on a night flight, naturally) to rescue her lover's waning spirit. 

In the meantime, Adam visits Dr. Watson at a local hospital, from whom he illegally buys blood. The scene sits on the cusp of wit, but never quite reaches it. The director's restraint is perplexing. He seems to be deliberately avoiding anything that could be construed as entertaining.

After Eve arrives, so does her party hearty sister, Ava. They visit a local dive bar accompanied by Adam's Renfield, Ian, a musician. He borders on likable. Their bar foray leads to the one real incident in the film, which occurs at least half-way through. 

That's right: we cool. We wear our sunglasses at night.
Long, boring scene follows long, boring scene. Tedious reference is piled upon tedious reference. Latin names are invoked. Humour could have floated the whole enterprise, but it is barely present. 

There are some interesting ideas here. Vampirism as addiction, for example. But nothing is done with the idea. 

If I'd had a cross at the screening, I would have stood up and tried to send this film back to the depths of hell from whence it came.

Sorry, cool kids. It was just not my cup of tea.

1 comment:

  1. I just want to thank you for posting this review. My thoughts on this film are the same. I am a big fan of Jarmusch's older films, but watching this was painful. And I was absolutely shocked to find out that all the other reviews of this film are generally positive...glowing, even.

    The countless "cool" references in this movie are obnoxious. I felt like my intelligence was being insulted. The audience doesn't need to have everything spelled out for them. It felt like this movie was made by a moody teenager trying to prove his cred to his peers, not someone who has already established themselves as a talented filmmaker.

    And one last thing- why does Adam bear such a close resemblance to Jared Leto/Criss Angel??!! Is this supposed to be what a cool vampire is like??! I guess that's why he likes to go to see cheesy bands play in Detroit clubs. Cringey.