Only Lovers Left Alive

May 5, 2014

I am so immensely pleased and proud of myself that I spent my money this weekend on this movie, and not on Amazing Spider-Man 2, which every instinct and fiber of my being screamed was going to be a white hot mess.  Reviews have generally borne this out.  I had to go all the way to the Mayan in Denver to vote with my dollars, but I did it, dammit.

The short review:  Only Lovers Left Alive did not displace The Hunger as my favorite vampire movie of all time, but it did have lots of shirtless Tom Hiddleston, so it balances out.

The movie is slow and leisurely, which is fine.  I loved the first half — it was a good, interesting urban fantasy set up.  The second half dragged.  It left a lot of guns on a lot of mantels (literally, in one case!) without firing them.  I’m pretty sure the movie did that on purpose, which is also fine, but it made for a rather unsatisfying experience, ultimately.

Because here’s the thing.  The movie raises the question that nearly every story about centuries-old vampires raises:  Why now?  What’s changed?  These vampires have been trucking along, doing all right, for hundreds of years — and now, suddenly, something happens to change that, to change their attitudes, to make things more difficult than they were, to add crisis.  But this story doesn’t really answer that question.  A lot of vampire stories don’t, because it turns out that’s a really hard question to answer convincingly.  Well, to be fair, this one vaguely answers it, something about human blood being super-contaminated now and it’s no longer possible to live on it without it being medically pure, which is very difficult to get, etc. etc.  But I was unconvinced, because I have a hard time believing blood now is any more contaminated than it was a hundred years ago in the days of untreated syphilis and rampant lead poisoning.  Probably doesn’t matter because the whole thing was probably just a metaphor.

It’s worth seeing, if you’re a particular connoisseur of vampire movies.  It’s got some great moments, great acting, a really nice appearance by John Hurt, all those historical vampire inside jokes about Byron and so on.  And some good lines:  “Well, that was visual.”

Now I want to see Byzantium, another artsy vampire film that came out a couple of years ago that’s supposed to be excellent.

2 Responses to “Only Lovers Left Alive”

  1. A friend of mine took me to see this film at the Kabuki theatre (I mention this because you can bring drinks in, and my drink was called the ‘depressed vampire’ which…made me laugh a lot.)

    I got the impression that Adam’s …mid(?) life crisis was part boredom, part just exhaustion. You’ve lived so long, holed yourself up, and there’s no more surprises, just night, after night, after night… It struck me that Eve had the ability to draw him out of this, because she still saw the world held wonders.

    I’m one of those vampire connoisseurs. And this movie tickled my fancy in that it wasn’t a traditional vampire movie, with blood, and gore, and pointless violence (Not that I have anything against that! Lost boys is one of my favorite vampire films!) but it was a refreshing change, and I’m so happy that you saw it and enjoyed it as well! I’m hoping it comes to DVD, so I can buy it, share it, discuss it, and be able to just quietly enjoy it!

  2. LupLun Says:

    It was beautiful filmmaking, but the story was absolute garbage. Not incompetent garbage, but offensive garbage.

    People have said it doesn’t have a plot, but it actually does, and it’s utterly repulsive. Basically, the vampires are the idle rich. All their needs are provided for, and they haven’t a care in the world. So they while away their time getting high on blood, dropping huge stacks of bills on frivolous things, pursuing artistic indulgences, and mostly ignoring the petty humans who are SO far beneath them. Then they whine about how boring life is. It’s a story as old as human civilization, and always intolerably entitled. It’s two hours with a quartet of privileged idiots who are too self-absorbed to realize how good they’ve got it. By the time the credits rolled I wanted to Van Helsing the whole lot of them.

    And of COURSE, there’s the ending where they lose everything and find themselves having to struggle for survival like the ordinary people. Neither this, nor the fact that the characters actually show humanity at this point, mollifies me, because it’s the logical outgrowth of this style of navel-gazing. Our rich idiot protagonists realize that life is much more fulfilling for the poor people who have to earn it. If anything, this infuriates even more than the proceeding, because the ultimate statement of the characters’ pompous naivete is to look at the endless fight for your daily bread as a kind of game played for amusement. This stuff is deadly serious for people who can’t just drop six figures on an antique guitar and never miss a cent. Turning it into some microeconomic version of skydiving is an insult to people who actually do this for a living, ponce.

    Film sure is gorgeous, though. Yippee.

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