Beren (beren_writes) wrote,

Review: Only Lovers Left Alive

Title: Only Lovers Left Alive (OLLA Tumblr, OLLA Twitter)
Rating: 15
Tom Hiddleston ... Adam
Tilda Swinton ... Eve
Mia Wasikowska ... Ava
John Hurt ... Marlowe
Anton Yelchin ... Ian
Summary: Adam and Eve are vampires and they've been married for centuries. They are deeply in love even though half the time they live on different continents. When Eve realises Adam is depressed she returns to him in Detroit and trouble soon follows in the form of her little sister Ava.

I love this film and no, before anyone suggests it, not just because Tom Hiddleston spends a lot of it wandering around half naked. That is an added bonus, but totally not why I love the film.

In truth if this had had the wrong cast it would have been deadly. The whole film has a very dry sense of humour and is totally character driven; with the wrong people in the roles it would have been like watching paint dry. This is not and I repeat, not, an action packed vampire movie. OLLA is a character exploration and those character happen to be vampires. It is brilliant.

I have to admit there were two people in our cinema who got up and walked out in the first 20 mins, but then there were two people in the theatre when we saw Coriolanus who did that as well, so not everyone can enjoy the same thing. The rest of us were riveted.

Tom Hiddleston is Adam, a self absorbed musician and scientist who is depressed and suicidal. He lives in Detroit in part of the city that is mostly abandoned and makes his music and gets Ian (Anton Yelchin) to release his music for him with no name attached. He only goes out to pick up blood from the local hospital where he dresses as a doctor to sneak in. The first time we see this is comedy cold - Jeffrey Wright who plays his contact in the hospital is superb. I shalln't spoil it for you, but it's very funny.

Adam spends the entire film not smiling and delivering dry one liners. Tom is absolutely wonderful and he manages to make you sympathise with Adam even though he could easily have come off as an egocentric arse.

Then there is the unrivalled Tilda Swinton; wow is she fantastic. Eve isn't the opposite of Adam, but she does believe in going out and interacting and appreciating life rather than seeing everything that is bad. She can see Adam's issues and she does for him what she does best: she loves him. This is quite a still film; there are many scenes with not a lot of movement, but Tilda is one of those actresses that can fill a screen even when she is just sitting there.

John Hurt, Mia Wasikowska and Anton Yelchin are also all great as contrasts to Adam and Eve. Ava is all movement and excess; the blood addict who is nothing but trouble. Then there is Ian who is actually alive, or a 'zombie' as the vampires refer to humans and he is Adam's connection to the world. Finally the great John Hurt as Christopher Marlowe (and yes, one of the running jokes is the whole Shakespeare conspiracy) who is old and wise and gives Eve the freedom to need advice from someone else rather than be the voice of reason all the time.

I enjoyed the beginning of the film where Adam and Eve are living in different places, but I have to say I thought it was completely brilliant as soon as they came together. They are so sensual and beautiful together. There were scenes with them both that just left me sitting there with a huge smile on my face because they made me so happy.

There are also parts that are laugh out loud funny. The part where Adam and Eve are sat either end of the sofa with Ian in between them just looking at him, for reasons I will not spoil, is hilarious. There are one-liners all over the place that made me snigger and in places it's a really funny, but really subtle film.

Vampire movies often have the depth of a small puddle (this is coming from a huge vampire movie fan), but this one is an ocean. They talk music, literature, science and I ended up believing these really were two people who had seen history. My favourite touch, however, is the gloves and it is a master class in show, don't tell. We never have a human who has to be taught vampire lore in this film, so everything we learn about the vampires we have to see and the fact they pick up information off everything they touch is brilliant. It increases their connection to the world and to each other and it is superbly done. The quiet joy of Adam and his instruments and Eve and her books is simply beautiful.

I've already ordered the blu-ray even though it has no release date as yet. I want this on my shelf so I can go back and watch it whenever I want. You'd think a film about a depressed musician and his reserved but happy wife wouldn't be uplifting, but it is. I want more, but I suspect this is the kind of film that will never have a sequel, possibly that's actually a good thing since sequels are often not a patch on the original.

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Tags: fandom: only lovers left alive, genre: vampires, type: review

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