Disclaimer: This is a review, and as such will contain opinions, spoilers and (often) general shit talking. (If you talk about what you don’t like about a work, you learn a lot. When you think through a work with the stakes presented to you by the creator, by the context of the work, you learn a lot. I review things, not because I love to dislike things, but because dislike contains rich and vital information for the process of experiencing something, but I cannot access it without interrogating it.) So, if you don’t want to have this thing spoiled for you, or don’t know how to behave when a person on the internet, that you don’t know, has opinions that don’t line up with yours, this review is not for you. It’s also not for the author/creator of the work. Please and thank you.

Only Lovers Left Alive is dark – literally (events take place mostly during nighttime), emotionally and psychologically – the pace is unhurried, and the plot takes a backseat to explore the hearts of two complex and sensitive characters dealing with being alive for so long.

It may not sound like it, but it’s a beautiful film that celebrates life.

It’s a unique approach to the vampire genre, focusing more on the philosophical and existential aspects of immortal life.

It’s a very contemplative film that focuses on introspection, rather than external action.

The casting is remarkable, the music is hypnotising (I mean, Yasmine Hamdan?! Amazing!), the atmosphere is moody, and this is the kind of movie I love watching late at night.

It’s not easy being a vampire and still retain your humanity.

And Adam and Eve have completely opposite ways of coping.

Adam has become a disillusioned musician, living as a recluse in Detroit, USA, its ghost town-like reality echoing his depression and loneliness. He spends his time creating music, avoiding contact with the outside world, and indulging his existential crisis.

Eve resides in Tangier, Morocco, immersing herself in the arts and science, seeking out human connections, and enjoying whatever life has to offer. Unlike Adam, she refuses to give in to the weight of the existential crisis and is determined to make the most of it instead.

Adam and Eve have been in love for centuries, and have gotten married several times over.

Despite their love for each other, they occasionally experience the weariness that comes from living through the ages and witnessing the world change.

Tilda Swinton as life-loving Eve and Tom Hiddleston as disappointed-in-humanity Adam give compelling performances that are incredibly subtle and have immense depth.

I love how the film transcends the traditional vampire clichés and tropes, preferring instead to delve into deeper themes of love, art, and the passage of time.

I think it takes a calm soul and a certain familiarity with loneliness to fully appreciate this film because you get a very intimate front-row seat to two immortal beings grappling with the existential challenges of eternal life.

Only Lovers Left Alive offers a fresh and unconventional take on the traditional vampire narrative.

The film delves deeply into philosophical themes, exploring the existential aspects of immortality.

It raises questions about the meaning of life, the value of art, the nature of time, and the significance of human connections.

By focusing on the inner struggles and emotional complexities of immortal beings, the film elevates the vampire genre beyond its typical focus on supernatural abilities and bloodlust.

I love how it subverts the traditional vampire tropes.

It challenges the idea of vampires as bloodthirsty monsters, instead painting them as cultured and contemplative individuals, reflective beings burdened with the weight of their long lives.

Where vampire movies typically prioritise action and suspense, often to their detriment, Only Lovers Left Alive focuses on intellectual stimulation and emotional depth.

It challenges you to reflect on the deeper meanings behind the narrative.

There’s a subtle critique of modern society and particularly consumer culture as it contrasts the ageless wisdom and centuries of experience of the protagonists against materialistic obsessions and fleeting trends of the modern world.

It has several biblical allusions.

It doesn’t follow a biblical narrative, but incorporates elements that resonate with biblical symbolism.

Some of the biblical parallels in the film are:

  1. Adam and Eve: The names of the two main characters, Adam and Eve, are direct references to the biblical first man and woman in the Book of Genesis. Like their namesakes, the vampire couple in the film represents an enduring and immortal union, existing together for centuries.
  2. Immortality and forbidden knowledge: In the Bible, the story of Adam and Eve centres around the tree of knowledge of good and evil, from which they are forbidden to eat. In the film, Adam and Eve are immortal beings who have acquired vast knowledge and experience throughout their long lives. Their immortality grants them access to knowledge that ordinary mortals cannot comprehend.
  3. The Garden of Eden: The film depicts Adam’s home in Detroit as a sort of modern-day Garden of Eden. It’s a secluded and lush space filled with artistic and musical treasures, reflecting the idyllic and protected nature of the biblical garden.
  4. Temptation and the fall: The character of Ava, Eve’s younger vampire sister, can be seen as a representation of temptation and the potential for moral decline. Her impulsive and reckless behaviour disrupts Adam and Eve’s harmonious existence and leads to conflict, echoing the biblical concept of the fall from grace.
  5. Blood and redemption: Blood is a significant element in the film, as it sustains the vampires and symbolises their connection to life. This blood symbolism can be associated with themes of sacrifice, redemption, and spiritual renewal, which are also present in various biblical narratives.
  6. The cycle of life and death: The film’s exploration of eternal life and the cyclical nature of human existence can be related to biblical themes of life, death, and resurrection, as seen in various stories and within the Bible.

The film does not present a direct retelling of biblical stories, rather, it incorporates these biblical parallels and allusions to enrich its themes of love, art, and the nature of existence.

These biblical resonances contribute to the film’s depth and complexity, providing additional layers of interpretation to explore.

The film is a commentary on the decline of culture and the value of preserving art and knowledge.

The subtle but powerful commentary is evident in the juxtaposition of the immortal characters and their interactions with the modern world.

The film underscores this sentiment by being visually striking, having stunning cinematography and incredibly atmospheric settings no matter where in the world they are.

The slow pace, relative lack of plot, and deliberate mood contribute to its contemplative nature.

Adam and Eve have lived long enough to have witnessed the rise and fall of various human civilisations.

They’ve experienced the golden ages of art, literature, and music, and they now find themselves disenchanted with the state of the world as they witness the decline of cultural values and the loss of appreciation for art, music, and literature in the modern age.

Throughout the film, Adam and Eve are shown surrounded by books, rare instruments, and historical artefacts, highlighting their passion.

They’re avid collectors of knowledge and art, cherishing the works of long-dead artists and thinkers.

Their appreciation for the past highlights the importance of preserving cultural heritage and the wisdom of the ages, especially in a society that often neglects its historical and artistic treasures.

The film juxtaposes the immortality of the vampires with the fleeting nature of mortal life.

And Adam and Eve’s timeless existence allows them to see beyond the ephemeral trends of the present day.

They possess a broader understanding of history and the cyclical nature of human civilisation, which underscores the short-sightedness of many contemporary societal pursuits.

This is also evident in Adam’s artistic frustration.

As a talented musician, he has become disillusioned with the contemporary music scene.

He sees the current state of the music industry as shallow and uninspired, lacking the depth and artistry of the past.

This frustration reflects a broader critique of modern culture’s obsession with instant gratification and commercialism at the expense of genuine artistic expression.

To further emphasise Adam’s point, Eve’s younger vampire sister, Ava, embodies a lack of regard for the past, living an impulsive and hedonistic lifestyle.

Her actions quickly lead to consequences that further emphasise the importance of valuing cultural heritage and the responsibility that comes with immortality.

The film uses the perspective of immortal beings to reflect on the fleeting nature of human culture and the need to preserve artistic and intellectual achievements.

It encourages you to consider the long-term consequences of neglecting cultural heritage, and to re-evaluate the contributions of art and knowledge in shaping an enlightened society imbued with meaning.

It pushes the genre beyond the conventional boundaries and offers a fresh take on vampire mythology.

For me, it’s one of the best vampire films ever made as it explores the topic from a new angle while giving a very slow-burning, intellectually stimulating story.

The trailer somehow completely fails to capture the vibe of the film itself, I think that’s down to using a more standard Hollywood model where you cram in as much as possible, which doesn’t work with this film.

Instead, a trailer that would have been deliberately slow, focusing on only a few things would have played better, but there you have it…

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