|Creature creature double feature, part 2: Only Lovers Left Alive (2013)
||[Aug. 1st, 2014|04:24 pm]
"Only Lovers Left Alive" is at its heart a movie about the ennui of nostalgia. Or perhaps a meditation on When Cool Kids Are Feeling Old. It's very funny in an understated sort of way, and sucks you into its languid, easy pace.|
Yes, there is some blood, and some fetishizing of blood, so this is not a good movie for some of my friends--but there's no violence, not really. This is a "talky", as they say. There is some frank investigation of deep ennui and acedia, and what that can precipitate, but it's handled in a loving way.
It was an excellent movie, of precisely the sort you don't get in a summer blockbuster. An art-house film, they'd call it, if people said that sort of thing any more.
Tilda Swinton gets to play a delightful vampire named Eve--possibly *that* Eve, though it's not explained--still alive these thousands of years and living in Tangier, of all places, at the intersection of cultures. She is the White Queen from a chess set, with her white leather coats and braided hair and sweeping motions, and particular care in speaking. She is people and literature; when she packs for a journey, we are treated to two or three minutes of book porn. She is life, still.
Tom Hiddleston plays the matching Black King and is named, of course, Adam; he lives in Detroit, a famous rock musician in reclusion, playing ancient guitars and using a hodge-podge of out-of-date technology which he makes work using his technological know-how (bordering on wizardry). The anachronisms are hilarious; he uses a Mac laptop of the DuoDock era to power videoconferencing which shows up on an early 50s-era TV, incongruously connecting to FaceTime on Eve's white (of course) iPhone. He is technology and music, but he just can't be bothered to remember what was invented *this* decade as opposed to last (or next) century. He is...bored. Lonely and bored.
Events soon pull them back together, but mostly this is a slice of their life, a small section like a book in the middle of Pepys' Diaries pulled off the shelf and read and returned with no thought to rereading the rest of the series.
So, we have two tremendously gorgeous actors paid to be gorgeous and in love with each other, in a slow, long, languid fashion. The entire movie shows them draping themselves tiredly over furniture, or reluctantly engaging in conversation, dragging themselves to and fro, going for long drives to nowhere in the middle of the night. There are three or maybe four scenes where someone is trying to roust one of them from bed, successfully, but always with great resistance.
It's torpor, played out; these are vampires whose Humanity is a little low (Adam's moreso than Eve's), and for whom sleep is the most enjoyable activity around. While they've slept the world has moved on--except it hasn't, not in their little bubbles. Eve has shrunk her world to that of her books and her few friends, and lives there. Adam's put himself in a "town that time turned its back on"; the movie buys, hard, into the myth that Detroit is composed entirely of decaying wrecks and streets of empty houses. Each has helpers that let them stay isolated and safe.
They see the world as it was around them--though, unlike Angel (which I'm rewatching), they don't seem out of place in the modern day. It's just that modern times are one more day in an endless life, and "now" doesn't have the importance or immediacy that it might for others. They adapt each in their own way.
It's this image of two somewhat innocuous people trying to be both immortal and unbothered that comes through; the world is on their damn lawn, and while they're too polite to raise much of a fuss, and all too aware of how dangerous it is for the world to _really_ notice them, they're still peeved by the whole thing.
It is, of course, well-acted, with some fun performances from the surrounding characters, but mostly from the interplay of these two very, very, very old lovers, who are still completely cathected, out of time except for each other. There's lots of texture, everywhere; Eve's bedroom is a study in fabric and patterns, and Adam's lab/lair is a techno-geek's nest writ large and accumulated over a century.
There're a lot of funny situations, some of the painful-funny sort, but most funny due to their very absurdity. There are any number of visual puns, including an unremarked recreation of a famous painting that made me and my movie companion laugh out loud. In-jokes abound, most of which I didn't get; which books, which songs, which guitars, which hospitals. And, of course, plenty of anachronism.
It's downright fun, and a bit daft.
 /me goes and looks up the director. Who is also the writer; ah. Yeah, def. Ooh, he did "Ghost: Way of the Samurai", which everyone else loved and I thought was slightly above average.
]2] Apparently Hiddleston replaced Michael Fassbender in the movie; that would have led to a more smoky, Angel-like vampire, rather than the rather whiny and childishly self-indulgent Adam we get in the movie-as-made. I think I prefer the way it turned out.
 There are plenty of each in Detroit; and yet, there are also plenty of vibrant areas, which we never see in the movie. Well, once, a local dive bar, but it's portrayed as if it were a lone building out in the middle of blackness.
 As in the mechanism in "Vampire: The Masquerade". Humanity represents how human your character is, and you lose it by doing amoral things like eating people. When you are "killed" by a non-permanent mechanism (say, shot), you enter Torpor, a deep comatose state which you cannot be roused from except by extreme measures like dripping flesh blood down your throat. The lower your Humanity when you are injured, the longer and the worse the Torpor is; in practice, this means every so often a really old and evil vampire arises, confused and very hungry...
 I have omitted discussion of the supporting characters as therein lies some spoilers. But also because the main characters are the story and terrain both...