Jim Jarmusch’s latest film, “Only Lovers Left Alive” is a study in cool. From narrative to look, to actors to score, “Only Lovers” is a mood piece, with hints of Jarmusch’s droll humor that pokes fun at pop culture while hinting at deeper themes of love and interaction. Starring the ultra-chic Tom Hiddleston and Tilda Swinton as passionate vampires Adam and Eve, this film examines adult relationships in a new milieu.
Last month, Tilda Swinton met with a group of reporters at the Four Seasons Hotel in Beverly Hills. She spoke passionately about her work with friend, director Jim Jarmusch, and discussed how this film became more personal than she ever imagined.
Swinton discusses her ongoing relationship with Jim Jarmusch:
We talk all the time ….We’re friends now. And part of the reason that I love to work with [Jim] is that it means I get to hang out with my pal for longer than if I wasn’t shooting with him. This one was another long gestation; it was seven or eight years since … he first rang me up and said, “hey man, let’s do a vampire film.”
Swinton discusses Eve’s vampire age and her perspective on life:
[Adam], he’s very young you know; he has yet to learn, he’s only 500 years old. [But Eve]’s 3000 years old …. She’s seen it all, and she knows survival is possible … if one keeps one’s eyes open and takes it all in. She’s not talking about turning one’s face away. She talks about witnessing the Inquisitions, the Middle Ages; she’s witnessed all the Holocausts, and yet she still seen humanity, and spirit, and nature survive those things. So she knows as long as one keeps looking up, and as long as one keeps breathing and keeps one’s perspective, than survival is possible.
Eve’s relationship with Marlowe (John Hurt) seems closer than friend or lover:
The relationship with Marlowe is a very precious part of the film for me. It felt very close to my own experience, in particular in my life, having a close relationship with [filmmaker] Derek Jarman [“Caravaggio”] whose disappearance from the building I had to witness … But [Marlowe] … he’s a different kind of a partner for her; he’s her neighbor; he’s her companion in a way that Adam isn’t. Adam isn’t as quotidian as Marlowe is for Eve. It just felt completely alive and fresh, and I just know that relationship inside and out. And John does too and he’s the perfect dance partner to play that out with. He also feels like family.
Eve’s relationship to her sister Ava (Mia Wasikowska):
Eve loves Ava; who knows what their story is …. I mean [Eve] does say they’re related by blood and one doesn’t necessarily know what that means… [Ava]’s even younger than Adam; she’s really a baby and one of the things we’re looking at there is … the older they get, these creatures, with wisdom, comes this extraction of themselves from human society. Ava is still super mixed up in it all …. she’s still having a relationship with human beings, “the zombies.”
Swinton reflects on how the film became more personal than expected:
I have to confess there’s a particular aspect, which is quite particular – my mother died during the course of making this film, which was strange because we were preparing so long for making a film about immortality. And then we started shooting and she was diagnosed with terminal cancer, and suddenly I was thrown into this very strange reflection. And for me, honestly, now a year later, this film is all about mortality. In the lightest way it’s got a lot to do with people preparing to die or how to survive death, which is what they do eventually. Even Marlowe when he says, “I soon will be dead,” you can see he’s kind of up for it …. And now a later year, I see that it’s enriched my personal experience of the film even more, because, yeah, it’s about surviving not only life but also surviving death. And I’m very grateful to it.
“Only Lovers Left Alive” is 123 minutes, Rated R and opens April 11.
For other film articles by Lori Huck, check out:
‘The Unknown Known’ Review: Errol Morris Takes on Donald Rumsfeld
‘Jane Eyre’ Movie Review: A Fine and Worthy Update
Love in the Time of Zombies: A Flash Fiction Horror Story