Director: Jim Jarmusch
Jim Jarmusch has been phoning in material for over a decade now – the start of the slide was when he was applauded for the awful, indulgent, pointless Coffee & Cigarettes (which might as well have been called Tom Waits and Jack White, since you can’t say a bad word about either). He made a handful of great films but all that “godfather of independent cinema” nonsense has allowed him to purposely obfuscate – he’s playing a game, surely. Seeing what he can get away with. How about a vampire film where I forget the fucking teeth? That might as well have been the pitch behind this.
Only Lovers Left Alive is a love story – with (pointless) hints of vampirism – and it’s yet another tale of a bored, depressed, jaded musician (the musician-as-vampire, how perfect) who (just) needs love too.
Cue Tom Hiddleston (Adam) and Tilda Swinton (Eve) – yes Adam and Eve, but that’s hilarious if you enjoyed Iggy Pop and Tom Waits holding each other’s dicks under the table while doing nothing else but pulling one over the audience – and they span time together. They fly by night. They get a bit exhausted. They have a little bit of blood – though not much. And they hang – once or twice – with the 400 year old Marlowe (cue Shakespeare jokes) from John Hurt, who presumably drained the blood (and appearance) of Sir Ian McKellen for his nearly-role here doing mostly-nothing.
Cringe-worthy in-jokes – little name-drops falling like hipster potpourri – culminate with the embarrassing mention of Jack White in a drive-by of the house where he was raised (all this blood-draining/blood-drained ennui takes place in Detroit). Apparently he was “actually his mother’s seventh son” – oh ffs, this film has sucked my time and money, it might as well take my blood too.
Yes, yes, it’s all gorgeous in its look, and mood – the sets, the lighting, but the film’s big point seems to be to show Tilda doing a slow-twirl more than once to incongruous music. Immaculate soundtrack choices, a lovely score (Jarmusch with regular collaborator Jozef Van Wissem) but seriously, it’s all delivered at such a brutally embarrassing slow-pace. And I say this as someone who loved Dead Man. I see Only Lovers is being billed as Jarmusch’s “most poetic film since Dead Man”. You have to be careful how you understand that sort of term.
I’m not even sure I’m cross with Jarmusch – I think he’s totally taking the piss.
Still I haven’t been as disappointed – nearly angry – by a film-watching experience since attempting to get through Mr. Pip.
I did make it through Only Lovers. Alive. But it took two attempts at watching it. And I should have quit when I had time still on my side. And the crushing realisation that the film was never going to get any better than its torturous opening half-hour could have stayed as something I never had confirmed. And never ever discussed.