So. Jim Jarmusch has un-blamed Anne Rice for us.
At least Jarmusch fans can thank Rice for his return to form, Only Lovers Left Alive. Who knew? Vampires.
Because it makes a sort of hipster sense when you consider his films. It doesn’t get more Gothic than a haunted black velvet painting of Elvis, so given the chance to toss in the ennui of the undead and grousing about the banality of the present, well if the Cuban-heeled shoe fits…
Not to blame Rice and her 1976 novel Interview with the Vampire alone for our latter-day bloodsucking folderol because she did get the “-isms” right. The romanticism of Byron and Stoker and the cynicism of the coming decades. What’s begat is begat, and the wheezing vampire trope can provide audiences an invigorating breath of fresh air coming from the right directors. Byzantium (Neil Jordan, who tried his best with his film of IWTV in 1994 ), Thirst (Chan-wook Park), Shadow of the Vampire (E. Elias Merhige).
Tilda Swinton and Tom Hiddleston are Eve and Adam. Devoted lovers through centuries of night who live half a world away from each other. Eve in Tangiers well off any beaten track, stacks of books filling her apartment as she contentedly and casually dreams through the evening hours missing her partner. Adam in crumbling Detroit sequestered in a run down house amid rare guitars and amplifiers where he crafts droning, hushed masterpieces of sound that despite his best efforts, filter to the underground music scene. His only contact, a sweetly earnest rock’n’roll gofer named Ian (Anton Yelchin) who supplies Adam with anything he needs. But now Adam wants a wooden bullet.
Jarmusch fans, you may now forgive The Limits of Control. Make no mistake, this film isn’t perfect, the heard-it-all-before Jarmusch-isms are there, but at least it’s focused and its principals have charisma to burn, including John Hurt as Christopher Marlowe, yes that Marlowe, still bitter about Shakespeare, the real vampire of history. The slim story, which mostly involves driving around Detroit and the problem of today’s blood supply being contaminated, has no real narrative tension and the word vampire is never mentioned. It’s a love story. Quiet and devoted like a 3-o’clock-in-the-morning feeling.
Those not interested in the undead or this being Jarmusch’s newest film in five years may come for Swinton alone, and she may be what truly makes the film. Her Eve is elegant and earthbound and is there another actress on the planet who conveys grace with a movement of her head that barely seems to even register? And how does she do that with her eyes? Really, some sort of study needs to be done.
So let’s forgive and forget. If not for centuries, then for at least the length of Eve’s favorite Stax single. – [DVD] [Blu-Ray]
DVD Release Date: 8/19/14