Only Lovers Left Alive (2013): An Old-Fashioned Romanticism in Modern Times

Romanticism has become a somewhat forgotten genre in the world of cinema, or at least for my part I don’t encounter it very often. The philosophical poetics of yesteryear in modern times, seems like an attractive idea and one for which you have to be very careful if you want to expose it to a wide audience.

Those of us who know Jarmusch’s work know that he is a director who likes to experiment a lot with philosophy and depressing scenarios, but although this particularity can be very overwhelming, in Only Lovers Left Alive we can see a different darkness, more focused on sound and an existentialist atmosphere where love coexists, unfolds and is constantly nourished to live forever.

Technical Data

Only Lovers Left Alive, is a British film released on May 25, 2013. It was directed and written by Jim Jarmusch and produced by Jeremy Thomas and Reinhard Brundig, through the production companies Recorded Picture Company and Pandora Film. It stars Tom Hiddleston as Adam, Tilda Swinton as Eve, Mia Wasikowska as Ava and John Hurt as Marlowe.

Music was scored by Jarmusch with Jozef van Wissem and cinematography by Yorick Le Saux. The film has a running time of 123 minutes and was distributed by Soda Pictures and Pandora Film Verleih.


The film is about two vampire lovers (Adam and Eve) who live apart at two ends of the world. Both are sensitive and intellectual souls with an affinity for music, literature and science. Despite their predatory nature, they managed to find a way to acquire clean, fresh blood without having to hunt people and thus live quiet lives. Although they live apart, their love has managed to prevail for several centuries.

However, Adam begins to feel depressed by the dark direction humanity has taken; polluting the environment and his blood. Eve, who is an older vampire with a broader vision, meets with Adam to relieve him of his depression, but their peace is disturbed by the unexpected arrival of Ava, Eve’s mischievous younger sister, who has failed to control her wild instincts. Now, they must remain intact in the face of Ava’s possible lack of control and the problems this may cause.

Personal Opinion

From the beginning, the film seems to want to immerse you in a hypnotic music, which stops in short periods and situations. Each scene has an iconic direction, surrounded by a gray and melancholic atmosphere. Something very particular of this director are the sparkling plots of very strong psychological arguments, which denotes that the dialogues are more relevant than the environment we are visualizing.

A couple of vampires who have survived devastating times, and who have influenced the classical musical culture. Adam, is a melancholic character, you can see it in his somber personality and in his whispering voice. Eve’s personality is the opposite of her partner’s; she is enthusiastic and has a more optimistic outlook on life, perhaps because she is three millennia old, unlike Adam who is only five hundred years old.

Their very opposing views and very particular discussions are what draws the attention of this film, because it would be very boring as the plot cannot be sustained with two melancholic vampires who only sleep in the daytime waiting for the night. Even the costumes seem to be a projection of their personalities, resembling “Yin Yang” in a quietly balanced environment.

The performances are so spectacular, as the realistic touch of the protagonists is another arm that supports the plot. Their peaceful yet dark personalities generate a kind of intrigue along with such complex dialogues. The cinematography work is so magnificent, shining its underground structure, and at the same time conveying that peace of the characters accompanied by that soft but mind-blowing music.

I thought there would be more prominence for Mia, who plays Ava in the film, but apparently the director only cared about her arrival and the fact that it happened so that the circumstances would slowly unfold as planned. Despite being a gloomy and romantic film, with a philosophical undertone in the style of Anne Rice, the message it leaves us is maintained from beginning to end, and is that the film with that suggestive title is telling us everything.

Many people have criticized the simplicity of its development (besides the modern vampires) but we must not forget that the real interest of the film is in its plot, which manages to expose a gothic romanticism of yesteryear in modern times, something that the director is grateful for and in my opinion, to finish, has managed to unwrap.

Final Thoughts

Despite the strong reviews for this film, most have been quite good. Only Lovers Left Alive is a romantic film with just enough existentialist darkness to leave us thoughtful, appropriately conveyed by interesting characters. I wouldn’t categorize it as a horror film, despite having some suggestive scenes, it would be for me as a drama of two immortal lovers who must survive in current times. Its philosophy is what I liked the most, and if you like that kind of movies with complicated and existentialist dialogues, then this film is the ideal one.

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