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American Women's Club of Hamburg

Film review - Only Lovers Left Alive

A Relay Review

Only Lovers Left Alive

Director: Jim Jarmusch, USA

Sometimes, without planning, several of our film critics happen to see the same film. In this case, six of us saw Only Lovers Left Alive which probably had much to do with the film being directed by Jim Jarmusch and featuring Tilda Swinton. Rather than choose one of us to write a review, we decided to be democratic and let everyone have her say, with one person beginning the review, then relaying it on to the next until each one has participated. This is the result:

Adam and Eve have been around for centuries, adapting their methods of survival as necessary while pursuing their individual interests. Adam is a musician living in an old house in a long abandoned part of Detroit. He collects vintage guitars and vinyl records. Eve is in Tangier but decides to return to Detroit to be with Adam and continue their long love affair with each other. Once reunited, they enjoy a lovely glass of red while listening to music and talking about old friends.

Their talk also turns to the world at large, often referring to all those not from their ‚kind‘ as Zombies, this description is a comment on the Zombied condition of the society in which they perpetually find themselves existing. This theme is interesting given Adam and Eve‘s undead state however it was not explored but rather left for us to pick up and mull over. Another element that I did stick in my mind was the hairdos. Who knew that undead do not require shampoo, although, with the ethereal looks of Tilda Swinton, hardly a complaint.

More a recluse, Adam’s only local friend is Ian, a true one-of-a-kind guy who gets him anything he requires, unhesitatingly and unquestioningly,    except for one thing that Adam does for himself. He might drive Eve here and there, with her pressed contentedly against his side, pointing out his favorite landmarks in Detroit, but Adam does the food shopping alone. Their atypical diet necessitates clever procurement; Adam oversees his harvest, whereas in Tangier Eve relies on Christopher Marlowe, a lasting friend who also sparks her mind.

Adam and Eve return to Tangier after a most unfortunate incident concerning Eve’s sister’s behavior towards Ian. They find that Marlowe, who has managed to keep his secret safe since the days of Shakespeare, has succumbed to a very modern illness. With his demise Adam and Eve are at a loss to obtain nourishment. There is only one thing to do and, knowing that it’s a very old-fashioned way to procure what they need, they must do it and so they take the plunge as the movie ends.

It is an interesting perspective that director Jarmusch takes showing two creatures that have lived on the earth for eternity watching from the sidelines as mankind destroys the earth by contaminating it. In fact it is so distressing that Adam begins contemplating suicide just before Eve arrives just in time to tempt Adam to go on. Jarmusch brilliantly mixes biblical and mythical ideology with our modern dilemma of the earth transforming into an unsuitable environment. (MW, CR, MH, JM, SRS)

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