What at first appeared to be a masturbatory indulgence of melancholic filmmaking turned out to be a luxuriously downbeat examination of two romantically archaic vampires who have lost their passion for life. Tom Hiddleston and Tilda Swinton play Adam and Eve whose lives have become reduced to depressingly splaying themselves against crimson furniture as they nostalgically pine for the sophistication and artistry of the 15th century. Their vast knowledge and specific tastes in music and style gives off the impression that they potentially were members of a high class or educated background who are now left to waste away in the detritus of Detroit. Thus making them the ultimate pompous snobs and yet dejected beatniks all the same.
But apart from their artistic disconnection to our modern age, they also possess a nihilistic attitude having bared witness to the degradation of our society whether through pollution or scientific expansion. What I enjoyed about it the most though is how the story becomes an incredible metaphor for drug addiction, stds, and ultimately the extinction of a species. Adam and Eve’s gloomy disposition and constant desire to acquire “the good stuff” portrays a parallel to an addict couple finding love within their shared misery of drug abuse whilst coasting through life.
However, with humans subjecting ourselves to an endless number of chemicals, drugs, and processed food, Adam and Eve not only search out the best blood for its taste and uniquity (also playing into their pompous personality) but for the dangers of being contaminated by unclean blood. Which creates an easy yet clever metaphor for the potential accident of an infected needle. And lastly, we’re ultimately witnessing the slow and tragic loss of an ancient species brought upon by the destructive nature of society. Adam continually grows sickened by the world he inhabits constantly referring to us as zombies who have squandered the world’s gifts whether they be nature or the brilliant scientists who were silenced out of ignorance. And with the blood of the world now having become tainted, they are left to contemplate existence and desperately search for meaning in a life that appears to be drawing to a close.
I love finding vampire media that completely goes beyond what you expect from vampire stories. Near Dark, Let the Right One In, and Shiki are some of my favourites and I am happy to say Only Lovers Left Alive fits my criteria. Though it is a slow burn film that could’ve been trimmed down, it is a great representation of what the image of “slow burn” is. A match faintly igniting into a bright flame that trickles down to the end as it mesmerizes you with its flashing orange torrents and sullen blue core. Drinking it in as Adam and Eve sip down their precious O negative.