Only Lovers Left Alive adds depth to tired genre.
Just when you thought that all possible avenues for vampire movies were exhausted, we are greeted by yet another tale of the ageless undead. Contrasting the nuances of trivial human life with big-picture immortality, Only Lovers Left Alive explores the ongoing romance of two vampires whose relationship has spanned many centuries.
Sackville Film Society’s latest screening follows the everlasting relationship of the not-so-subtly named Adam and Eve. Biblical motifs carry throughout the film, and if nothing else, these themes make their story all the more abstract and distant.
What differentiates the story of Adam and Eve from a lot of contemporary vampire films is that it does not show the beginning or the end of their relationship. Because the audience knows that they’ve been together for hundreds of years and will be together for many more, the film is merely a snippet of a relationship unbound by the restrictions of time.
This does not stop the pair from experiencing struggles in their relationship. While immortality may have its perks, it is clear that Adam has grown depressed and even suicidal, a situation which Eve tries to mend. In addition to mental illness, the film also makes allusions to drug use by exploring how these particular vampires acquire blood and feed. For example, the few human characters in the film serve only as “dealers” for the vampires. Adam even refers to O negative as “the good stuff,” and after drinking blood from fancy glassware, the vampires appear in a trance or even high.
A major component of the film that successfully brought the whole project together was the score. Adam’s music is a big part of his character, and the film gave him a bit more depth by including the music that he composed. The score also facilitates the transitions back and forth between Tangier and Detroit, combining Moroccan music and rock and roll. There is also an edginess about the score that reflects both the landscape of a desolate Detroit and Adam’s sinking mental state.
Only Lovers Left Alive also maintains a stagnant pace that suits its setting and subject matter. Because the story is a glimpse into the long lives of vampires, there are no real climactic plot points, but rather a series of events that continue to progress without any foreseeable conclusion. Whereas most stories in this genre feature a human lead that encounters a vampire and possibly even falls in love, this film offers no human perspective by which to place oneself. By omitting this human perspective, Only Lovers Left Alive tells a familiar gothic tale that leaves viewers to ponder the undead in a unique and exciting way.