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Film Review: Only Lovers Left Alive

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Adam (Tom Hiddleston) and Eve (Tilda Swinton) are two vampires who cope very differently with modern life. Eve embraces it whilst Adam rejects it and shuts himself off from the world. However, when Eve’s wild-child little sister Ava (Mia Wasikowska) turns up, both their worlds are thrown into disarray.

Fans of director Jim Jarmusch will have an inkling of what to expect from Only Lovers Left Alive. It’ll be highly stylised, told at walking pace and you’ll have to dig deep to find much semblance of plot. Sounds pretty perfect for the world of vampires, doesn’t it?

Both Adam and Eve have been around for hundreds, if not thousands of years and we get two very different perspectives on what is essentially eternal life and how they cope with it. Both have learnt to resist the urge to quench their thirst for blood direct from humans, instead sourcing it from specialist dealers; just part of the ubiquitous drug analogy that runs throughout the film.

Eve seems much more comfortable evolving over time; she has an iPhone, is happy to travel and is more outgoing compared to Adam, who has a much more negative view of modern society. He’s reclusive, refers to regular humans as zombies and is so disillusioned with modern life that he even considers suicide.

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The two don’t live together and seem worlds apart, yet there’s something that feels really genuine about their relationship. Tilda Swinton and Tom Hiddleston have excellent chemistry together, and they really make you believe they’re a couple who have spent hundreds of years in each other’s company.

And yet we never really know much about them. Their past is only ever hinted at, and whilst you could argue this adds to their mystique, it’s also quite frustrating that these intriguing characters ultimately appear rather underdeveloped.

Then there’s the issue of the film’s pacing, and it’s this which is likely to be the sticking point with many. Jim Jarmusch’s films are known for deliberately slow paced and this is very much the case here, focusing much more on the mood of the film rather than its narrative. Only when Eve’s younger sister Ava arrives does it break into a jog, and even though this does up the pace, it still feels a little too lethargic for its own good.

What Jarmusch does do, however, is create an absorbing atmosphere and world in which his characters inhabit. The oneiric cinematography of both Detroit and Tangier, the two locations in which the film is set, has a hypnotic quality mesmerising and really draws you into the film.

Only Lovers Left Alive is not going to appeal to everyone, particularly in its almost comatose pacing. However, it’s sultry, seductive and sexy, and thanks to some mesmerising cinematography and two magnetic central performances there’s plenty to admire if you just sit back and let the whole thing wash over you.

Pros

  • Hypnotic cinematography
  • Interesting take on the vampire story
  • Seductive performances from Hiddleston and Swinton

Cons

  • Pacing just too slow at times
  • Would have been nice to know more about the characters

4 pigeons

4/5 pigeons

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Film Review – Thor: The Dark World

With the Frost Giants defeated and Loki (Tom Hiddleston) in prison, Thor (Chris Hemsworth) is helping to return peace to the nine realms. However, after Jane (Natalie Portman) discovers an ancient force known as the Aether, Malekith (Christopher Eccleston), leader of the Dark Elves, hatches a plan to harness the Aether to return the nine realms to darkness.

The unique thing and the Thor franchise compared to the other Marvel films is that its hero comes from somewhere other than Earth. This presents its own set of pros and cons, but what it does ensure is that it has the opportunity to stand proud from its peers such as Iron Man and Captain America.

Thor: The Dark World takes advantage of other worldly locales more than the first film and it’s better for it as a result. We get to see some of the other realms, albeit briefly, and Asgard feels more fleshed out, starting to feel like a living, breathing world. This is no doubt down to director Alan Taylor who has also directed TV fantasy epic Game of ThronesWe still get a good chunk of the film set on Earth, however; this time in London. This split between the recognisable Earth and fantasy of Asgard is well balanced and adds excellent variety to the film’s locations.

One area where the film really excels is in its humour. Marvel films always have a rich vein of humour running through them but Thor:TDW turns it up a notch. It’s genuinely funny in places, with much of the humour coming from Tom Hiddleston’s Loki. His biting remarks towards Thor are frequent (maybe even a little too frequent) and more often then not will raise a giggle. Thor himself also some amusing moments, ensuring he’s not totally outplayed by his on-screen brother.

And it’s in the chemistry between the two brothers where the film really shines. Chris Hemsworth is a little held back by the nature of Thor’s character but still manages to inject a bit of personality into the role, particularly when he’s so obviously out of place during his time on Earth. Tom Hiddleston was undoubtedly the best thing about the first Thor film, and arguably also in Avengers Assembleand he’s similarly brilliant here. He manages to perfectly balance Loki’s smarmy yet scared persona masterfully; we see him goading Thor and hatching devious plots throughout, yet we also see a sadness and vulnerability that shows a deeper side to the character.

Unfortunately, this characterisation does not translate to the film’s villain. Christopher Eccleston’s Malekith is a frankly banal enemy devoid of personality or threat. This isn’t Eccleston’s fault, merely that of the character, and is a trend all too common with the recent batch of superhero movies.

Superhero films a ten a penny these days and it’s easy to become jaded by their familiarity and somewhat formulaic nature. Likewise, if you’re not a fan of the genre, there’s little here to suddenly change your mind (well, Chris Hemsworth maybe). However, thanks to some excellent set pieces and laugh out loud humour, Thor:TDW establishes itself as one of the best films in the Marvel series so far.

4 pigeons

4/5 pigeons

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