S E H R L A N G S A M. PACING has always been an important aspect of the films of Jim Jarmusch. And pacing is what Only Lovers Left Alive needs a cold hard injection of. I have no problem with a movie taking its time, but there’s a difference between taking your time and being downright lethargic. I take it that lethargy is a theme of this vampire tale, but for large swathes of the movie I wished that everything could just speed up. Having said that, I liked this movie. I think the pace could be picked up, but at the same time it’s not particularly draggy.
Another problem: it’s never very dramatic, or romantic, or comic — but I suppose that too would be missing the point. These vampires are decidedly disconnected, and Jarmusch I think wants to emphasize that fact — even if it risks disengaging the audience as well. For positives, I liked the original music, and the atmosphere and vibe of the film, and the little chips of humor. The settings and location shooting in Detroit and Tangier fit very nicely, and are properly exploited. The movie is greatly enlivened exactly when needed when the sister (Mia Wasikowska) visits. And finally, though Tilda Swinton is not always my favorite actress, she is perfectly cast here. She really gets the whole vampire gig.
So a mild recommendation — though as I reflect on it now, my memories grow fonder. That vague quality of vibe is difficult to define, and even more difficult to achieve — though I reckon the music has a lot to do with it. Only Lovers Left Alive achieves that great vibe. Another way to put it: it’s got some mojo. Mojo, or vibe, should not be under-accounted for. It’s a shame that pacing and plot don’t live up to the vibe.
Somehow I felt like this was a good version of last year’s Much Ado About Nothing, but I’m not sure why I draw a connection. Only Lovers Left Alive exhibits a trend of Jarmusch films becoming less and less recognizable as Jarmusch films. I hope he can return to form, because if not he’s simply past his prime. The trailer’s a good tell on this one: if you like it, you’ll like the movie. 6/10
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Comparison Notes: Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris, Immortal Beloved (title only), Dead Man, every vampire movie ever made