Hallelujah! Indie darling and grey-coiffed cinema visionary Jim Jarmusch just released his latest film after a four-year hiatus — a vampire movie! — at SXSW (although it did screen at Cannes this past May) and I'm all a titter about what this will mean for the evolution of the genre.
This is a love story, but also the story of two exceptional outsiders who, given their unusual circumstances, have a vast overview of human and natural history, including stunning achievements and tragic and brutal failures. Adam and Eve are themselves metaphors for the present state of human life — they are fragile and endangered, susceptible to natural forces, and to the shortsighted behavior of those in power. — Jim Jarmusch, The Playlist
Helmed by a super stellar case — namely Tilda Swinton, Tom Hiddleston, Mia Wasikowska and Anton Yelchin, Only Lovers Left Alive is less about propagating the myth of vampires and more about re-framing what it means to be a man or woman, what exactly is love, and what happens when you become a "couple"; Jarmusch is using folklore to re-explore modern notions of romance, of relationships.
Swinton explains that her character of Eve reminds us to "keep our eyes on the stars" and quit fretting every decision, every famine, every turn of the Great Cog; the film challenges our most existential fears of mortality, of our lives not "mattering", and that the pursuit of knowledge and exploration is at the very crux of finding meaning:
[Adam and Eve] are the inevitable perspective. That’s what one can be if you’ve lived for 3,000 years and know that survival is the most important gesture and changing is the inevitable course of action and that resisting change or resisting nature, or not throwing oneself into kindness is just a hiding into nothing. Because that’s the only thing this kind of perspective would bring you up against.
[Eve's] seen it all, she’s survived it, and she’s seen that things roll on and she’s not sweating the small, the medium, the big — she’s just not sweating any of it. She’s got her eyes on the stars, and yeah — it’s pretty irresistible, that point of view, when you think about it. — Tilda Swinton, NYTimes
I was raised on a very healthy diet of supernatural phenomenon, alien conspiracy and "reality is subjective" talks from my father; needless to say I was really scared of the dark. I was convinced — and still am — that a whole lot of sh*t goes bump in the night. Up until the dawn of Twilight, vampire films were one of my favorite genres of horror. From Nesferatu and Blade to The Lost Boys and Bram Stoker's Dracula, I couldn't get enough of those blood suckers.
There was something so heady, so sad about all those vampires; every one of those coffin-loving bastards inspired this incredible feeling of pathos in me; living forever is some heavy sh*t. Everything and everyone you love perishes around you ... and worse yet, if yer like our dear friend Louis de Pointe du Lac (otherwise known as mega-hunk Brad Pitt in Interview with a Vampire) you struggle with your very own essence; it's an existential battle of epic proportions. You've got to take life to perpetuate your own or perhaps worse yet, snatch someone else's mortality in order not to kill them.
And then, like America's favorite blood-sucker Edward Cullen (or Kirsten Dunst's Interview with a Vampire character, Claudia), once you're "turned" you remain that age — aesthetically — forever. Claudia can never consummate her own womanhood because she looks 11 forever, despite her mind ever-evolving. How can anyone ever f*ck her? She's relegated to this tormented sphere of child-dom having more wisdom than most, yet stunted by golden ringlets and a pre-pubescent body. She can't even kill herself to mitigate her misery!
(And speaking of pseudo pedophilia is no one else disturbed that Edward Cullen is supposed to be like 6,000 years old and he's interested in sleeping with a 16-year-old?! That feels real wrong to me people. Last time I checked, just because someone LOOKS all sparkly and teenager-y doesn't mean they get to sleep with high-schoolers...)
Whet your appetite for a lush love story featuring a couple who "only happen to be vampires":
So there ya have it: A rant, a prayer and a gold star to put on your calendar; the film will debut in U.S. theaters April 11th, 2014. I'm getting hungry just thinking about it.