Evolution

What do you do when you turn old enough to realise it’s been twenty years since high school, and you’re just as shiftless as you ever were?

Watch a grunge-chic vampire flick, of course!

Only Lovers Left Alive is a Jim Jarmusch take on vampirism in the twenty-first century that is a welcome departure from the Twilight zone. Suitable, in other words, for those of us more in touch with our mortality.

The film documents a centuries-old love affair between Adam (Tom Hiddleston), a reclusive, “suicidally romantic” musician, and Eve (Tilda Swinton), a somewhat more optimistic, but equally reclusive, literary buff.

Living in obscurity between Detroit and Tangier, Adam and Eve share a languid existence borne as much of human (“zombie”) fatigue as a shortage of uncontaminated blood supply.

It’s the way they treat the world,” complains Adam, “and now they’ve succeeded in contaminating their own blood, never mind their water”.

It’s difficult to describe what happens. There’s an unwelcome visit from Eve’s sister, the problem of dead body disposal, and the last pure drop of illegally acquired blood – “type O negativo”.

Be warned: the film is dangerously anaemic of narrative tension. I’ll even admit to nodding off somewhere in the middle…

And yet.

How do I love this film? Let me count the ways.

There are so many truly clever, ‘you just have to see it’ funny moments in this film.

It celebrates, as much as pokes fun at, a kind of self-indulgent nostalgia – the kind only people who grew up with analogue can truly grasp.

Like the couple’s video chat, facilitated by an iPhone on one end, and an elaborate 1970’s telephone-to-television hook-up on the other.

only_lovers_left_alive_ver5“How can you have lived for so long and still not get it?” asks Eve of Adam.

There are numerous in-jokes about vinyl versus YouTube and the download generation.

Creative rewriting of the origins of classics, from the likes of Shakespeare and Schubert.

A healthy disdain for family, given 87 years between visits isn’t deemed long enough by Adam (“It’s always a bit weird with family”, concedes Eve).

While it may be true to say that not much happens, all the little moments come together in poetic symphony right at the end.

As Adam and Eve contemplate their fate and the meaning of entanglement theory, they watch, enthralled by what appear to be the only (other) lovers left alive…

What I love most about this film is the evolution of the vampire mythology. Where once vampires were seen to prey on humans with abandon, there is now a recognition of their dependence on human virility.

Whether it be the artists and their fan base, or the vampires and their blood source, they are interdependent on each other.

The reminder that we’re all going down together was just what I needed to be grateful for another revolution around the sun!

What was the last film and/or birthday indulgence you truly enjoyed?