It's hardly surprising that laconic filmmaker Jim Jarmusch (Broken Flowers) has created such an inventively offbeat vampire movie, helped hugely by the ace casting of Tilda Swinton and Tom Hiddleston as extremely long-term lovers. Fans of the genre might find the movie a bit slow and relaxed, but sharp humour and especially strong characters make it unmissable.
In a run-down house in Detroit, centuries-old Adam (Hiddleston) is living in squalor while anonymously creating club music with the assistance of Ian (Yelchin), who finds things like antique guitars for him to play. He gets his supply of clean O-negative blood from a helpful doctor (Wright). Meanwhile in Tangiers, Adam's wife Eve (Swinton) relies on her old pal Marlowe (Hurt) for the blood she sips at sunrise like a cocktail before lapsing into a deep sleep. Bored, Eve decides to visit Adam, so books nighttime flights and arrives to a blissful reunion. But their solace is interrupted when her wild-child sister Eva (Wasikowska) turns up.
These may be creatures of the night, but over thousands of years they have discovered exactly what kind of art soothes their souls. And Eva's boisterous presence disrupts their languorous peace even more than the fact that the blood supply is becoming increasingly contaminated. Adam and Eve call humans "zombies" dismissively and joke about their influence on key events and inventions throughout history. Hiddleston and Swinton are utterly perfect for these roles, bringing out details that are hilarious as well as emotionally moving. They also let us see the years of boredom mixed with a glimmer of childish curiosity that would be required to survive for so long.
Indeed, their relationship feels a thousand years old, which allows Jarmusch to make some telling observations about how romance evolves. These resonant touches continually catch us by surprise, as do some snappy moments of livelier humour that wake us from the film's otherwise sleepy tone. Cleverly, the movie respects vampire mythology without overusing it. So in the end it becomes a remarkably evocative look at what it means to be alive and how we need each other to get through life. Especially if that life is an extra-long one.
Run time: 123 mins
In Theaters: Wednesday 25th December 2013
Box Office USA: $1.9M
Distributed by: Sony Pictures Classics
Production compaines: Pandora Film, Recorded Picture Company (RPC), Snow Wolf Produktion, ARD/Degeto Film GmbH, Neue Road Movies, Lago Film, Faliro House Productions
Contactmusic.com: 4 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 85%
Fresh: 133 Rotten: 23
IMDB: 7.3 / 10
Director: Jim Jarmusch
Producer: Reinhard Brundig, Jeremy Thomas
Screenwriter: Jim Jarmusch
Starring: Tom Hiddleston as Adam, Tilda Swinton as Eve, Mia Wasikowska as Ava, John Hurt as Marlowe, Anton Yelchin as Ian, Slimane Dazi as Bilal, Jeffrey Wright as Dr. Watson, Cody Stauber as Adam's Fan, Ali Amine as Taxi Driver
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