Shifting between the vibrant exoticism of Tangier and the grey streets of Detroit, Only Lovers Left Alive follows the romantic path of reclusive musician Adam and his beloved Eve, a pair of centuries-old vampires reuniting after a spell apart. Taking up residence in Adam’s disordered suburban house, the undead duo gorge themselves on each other’s company, until the arrival of Eve’s feisty sister, Ava, looks set to disrupt their nocturnal utopia. The sweeping, ageless romanticism of Bram Stoker’s Dracula mixing with the elegant mystery of Claire Denis’ Trouble Every Day, Jim Jarmusch’s meditative vampire film is a shrewd and sensual subversion on familiar gothic mythology. With their poised and controlled performances, Tilda Swinton, Tom Hiddleston and Mia Wasikowska (not to mention John Hurt as Christopher Marlowe) each bring an effortless cool to proceedings, while underneath the layers of style is a foundation of rampant emotion and desperate longing. Filled with musical and literary references, all presented with Jarmusch’s typically deadpan style of humour, Only Lovers Left Alive joins the likes of George Romero’s Martin, Michael Almereyda’s Nadja and Abel Ferrara’s The Addiction as a defining example of the existential vampire film.

Michael Blyth
BFI London Film Festival