A depressed musician reunites with his lover, though their romance – which has already endured several centuries – is disrupted by the arrival of uncontrollable younger sister.
Tilda Swinton, Tom Hiddleston, Mia Wasikowska, Anton Yelchin, and John Hurt in a movie together.
Only Lovers Left Alive might technically be a vampire movie, but really, the fact that four of the five main cast members are immortals that live on blood is irrelevant.
Only Lovers Left Alive tells the story of Adam (Hiddleston), the “depressed musician,” whose anonymous recordings are garnering an underground fan-base that is trying to track him down. Living in an abandoned, run-down segment of Detroit, Adam relies on Ian (Yelchin) to supply him with rare musical instruments and anything else he might need, as well as keeping prying eyes away from him.
Though Adam appreciates everything Ian does for him–and, indeed, might consider him a friend–Adam still knows that Ian is a zombie: a regular human who is simply shuffling through life without making a real attempt to appreciate the wonder of the world or to create something new in it.
Receiving a call from Eve (Swinton), his wife, Adam puts off plans to kill himself with a wooden bullet that Ian has procured for him. Eve travels from Tangier to Detroit, sensing his troubles.
As the two lovers reconnect, Adam’s loss of hope fades slightly, reminded as he is by Eve of the wonder of their love.
Of course, when Eve’s sister, Ava (Wasikowska), shows up on their doorstep, things change. The ever-young, ever-immature, ever-careless Ava is like the hippie cousin that just floats from place to place, finally coming home to recharge and wreak havoc on the lives around her.
Drinking up all of Adam’s “good stuff,” Ava eventually looses control and drinks Ian.
Yes, she drank Ian.
Finally throwing her out, Adam and Eve dispose of Ian’s body and fly back to Tangiers (night flights only, of course), only to find that their old friend Kit (Hurt) is dying from drinking some contaminated blood.
As Adam and Eve weaken, they come across a young couple in the night streets, desperately in love, and, well, watch the movie.
Most of the film is dedicated to Adam and Eve’s discussion of society and its ills, and how man has ceased to stretch, to learn, to expand the mind. Adam mourns the loss of his scientists across the centuries, of how their work has been forgotten, discarded, discredited, and even how the zombies are still arguing Darwin.
All in all, Only Lovers Left Alive really is a great movie, if you don’t mind two character talking for two hours (which I don’t). Although here, instead of talking about life, the talk is of lives, many of them, over centuries or more. How the various characters have accepted their prolonged existence is the interesting part, with Adam, the artist, trying in vain to create for creation’s sake, only to slowly lose that edge, that spark within him, that allows him to soldier on in the face of the zombie horde that he sees as slowly killing themselves and the planet.
Eve’s spirituality carries her through, even telling Adam as he bemoans what Detroit has become that it will recover because “there’s water here. When the cities in the South burn, Detroit will bloom.”
How we see life as we age is a discussion worth having.
How would we see life if we never aged, but all around us did?
Are they two different questions, or merely the same one?
That is the question Only Lovers Left Alive is really asking.